Breaking the silence on Miscarriage and Perinatal loss
The loss of a baby at any stage of pregnancy can be absolutely devastating, it’s a time in your life that you need the most love and support, but in so many cases couples suffer alone. For some reason, even now with everything we know surrounding pregnancy loss, this topic is still not openly talked about by a lot of people. So let’s break the silence and talk about miscarriage and perinatal loss.
Before I go on I want to take a minute to acknowledge every family who has experienced the loss of a baby. I’m inspired to share this blog with you after very close friends of mine lost their beautiful son recently. May this be a constant reminder to anyone who has suffered loss that you are seen, you are heard and you are loved.
What is miscarriage?
Clinically speaking, miscarriage is the loss of a baby before the 20 week mark. Miscarriage is far more common in the first trimester (conception – 12 weeks), with each day/week that passes, that risk reduces. A loss of a baby in the second trimester is known as a mid-trimester miscarriage or a late miscarriage. If a baby is lost from 20 weeks onwards it’s referred to as a FDIU (Fetal Death In Utero), A Stillbirth or if a baby is born alive and passes shortly after, this is known as a NND (Neonatal Death).
Why do miscarriages happen?
In some cases, we will never know why, but there are a few reasons we do understand, and these are
1. Hormonal Imbalance
2. An abnormality in the growing baby or placenta
3. The Growing baby didn’t attach well enough to the uterine wall
4. Cervix was unable to hold the baby and dilates prematurely
The current statistics say that around 1 in 4 pregnancies result in a miscarriage and 1 in 8 women experience fertility issues. That is a significant amount of families! So why don’t we talk about it more?! When it comes down to it, this is an extremely sensitive topic and each person has the right to decide how they process their feelings around it and if they choose to share their experience with others. The most important thing we can do is to create a safe space for those who want to share in their own time.
Take the time you need to grieve
Grief is a significant part of processing the experience of losing a baby. And while a couple may be going through this experience at the same time, it does not mean that they are grieving in the same way. So, it is imperative to let each other grieve in a way that feels right for them, and without judgement.
It is also quite common that others may become triggered by their own experience and memories that can heighten or rekindle grief. This means that grief does not have a finish line, and even though life will get easier over time, the thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong way to grieve your experience. It is immensely personal and different for everyone.
Recovering from your experience
Recovery after the loss of a baby takes time both emotionally and physically. There are a number of different ways that the loss of a baby comes about and this will impact your physical recovery.
Women will experience bleeding after loss as well as a cascade of hormonal affects. It’s important to be kind to your body, go slowly, move gently and give yourself time to physically recover.
For women who have experienced loss due to illness or infection also need time to recover from those affects. A doctor can write a note that states you can return to work after a certain amount of time but it’s so important to keep that dialogue open and if you’re not feeling ready, listen to that voice and take more time.
Perinatal Depression & Anxiety
Some women will experience clinical depression and anxiety in the time following the loss of their child. Post natal depression can still impact a woman after loss. It’s so important that the difference is acknowledged and not just labelled as grief, they are very different!
Experiencing mental health concerns after the loss of a baby for either mum or dad is not a sign of weakness or an inability to process grief. It is a significant life event that causes a huge disturbance of our emotional range. Seeking help and support is encouraged and if medication is required to help you through this time, don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed, you are not alone.
Miscarriage and perinatal loss is an unfairly common experience in life, however that doesn’t mean it’s easy to talk about or process. Some families are lucky enough to have wonderful support systems and they can communicate well within that network, however not everyone is in the same boat.
So for those who do need a support network here are a number of resources available to you if needed and I urge you to take a look and reach out when you feel ready.
PANDA – Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia
SANDS – Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Newborn Death Support
The Gidget Foundation Australia - Perinatal Depression and Anxiety
The loss of a baby at any stage of pregnancy can be heart breaking and there is no scale to which it should or would affect you. Take your time to heal and grieve, seek support and care when you feel ready and remember that you are seen, heard, loved and respected.
Sending all my love and support,
Midwife Kelly x
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