Approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, yet the topic remains taboo.
Is it shame, a sense of failure or are there other reasons why we don’t share this common occurrence, even with close friends and family?
It’s extremely common for mums-to-be to hide their pregnancies until they reach the 12-week mark, with the 12-week scan being one of the big milestones. The first proof of life!
The fact that we hide our pregnancies from those closest to us up until this point is to ensure that we don’t have to then turn around and confess “my baby didn’t have a heartbeat” or “I’ve miscarried and lost my baby” indicates that we’re preparing to hide this dark secret before it even happens.
If you lose a child, a dog, a parent, a friend, or your bloody iPhone, you’re entitled to sympathy, support and understanding of those around you, but if you lose your baby…shhhhhh.
Why are we so afraid that someone might find out that we’ve had a miscarriage?
I lost a baby 6 years ago and it was one of the single darkest moments of my life, the thought that someone would find out (at the time) absolutely horrified me, and this is why.
A sense of failure
I have no idea why women feel this way, why I felt this way, but losing that baby was one of the top 3 failures of my life. Was it that one bite of the hotdog that I took from a corner vendor in New York, then promptly spat out from the guilt? Was it the orgasm I had that caused massive cramping afterwards? I just couldn’t sleep and my legs were so restless.
Was it because I invited my dog Scooby to sit up on the couch with me and he gave me a little nudge in the belly? Or was it that I just wasn’t enough of a woman to carry a baby?
There’s no logical reason, yet women feel a sense of shame over losing a baby. Don’t try to explain it away. It’s there and there’s nothing you can do about it.
When the blood comes out your vagina…
Well yes it does, and that’s natural. I think somehow this might contribute to the embarrassment of the announcement, somehow. I can’t be sure, but we keep our periods a secret, the end result of a miscarriage is quite similar, we bleed.
We’re not like guys, we don’t freely talk about what goes on in the cubicle, in fact, we’re likely to cause ourselves internal injury holding ‘it’ in rather than make an inappropriately appropriate noise in a public restroom.
Perhaps the embarrassment of what a miscarriage does to your body is a part of the taboo topic.
Nobody, and I mean nobody, except a mummy-to-be-that-wasn’t-to-be can understand how hurtful people are with their attempts at comforting a woman who has been through a miscarriage.
Here’s some of my favourites:
“Don’t worry, you’ll have another one.”
So if your dog died and I smiled and patted you on the back and told you “just buy another one”, how would you feel? I want THAT baby, not another baby!
“It’s not your fault.”
Are you a doctor, do you know that for sure? Your words are meaningless to me. Where’s your proof? Nice attempt at trying to make me feel better, should I smile and say thank you?
“It wasn’t a baby yet.”
Well to me it was, and it wasn’t just a baby, it was my baby, my hopes and dreams, my family, my everything. Come closer so I can slap you!
Sorry for sounding a little sarcastic and aggressive, but thinking about the comments took me back to how I felt. I was hurting and most the comments did nothing but make it worse.
How to help a friend who has had a miscarriage
So I’ve told you the things not to say, here are a few suggestions on how you can help:
Talk to her.
I think a lot of people are afraid to bring up the topic as they don’t want to remind them of what’s happened. Let me tell you something to change your thinking. She’s already thinking about it 24 x 7, bringing it up with her simply shows that you care.
Don’t pretend you understand.
If you’ve never lost a baby, don’t even try to understand it. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with admitting that you don’t know what to say, just tell her that you’re there to listen or do anything that she needs.
Buy her something to remember the baby.
Again, she’s already thinking of her lost bub, she’s already sobbing herself to sleep at night, so buy her a stuffed toy for the baby she lost, she’ll have something to cuddle when she’s alone.
If you’re a mum-to-be or a mum who has lost a bub, stand up and tell people. Stop hiding it. Talk about it openly so that future mums know that they aren’t alone. Maybe we can make their loss a little easier, make them feel that it’s normal. It’s not an uncommon occurrence.
If you’re a friend or family member of a woman who has had a miscarriage, there’s one simple rule to follow:
Don’t trivialise what she’s feeling. If you can’t understand it, say “I’m so sorry, I’m here” and just give her a hug.
Share your story, stop the shame.