6 things a woman who’s miscarried needs to hear

It isn’t easy helping someone cope with a pregnancy loss, but these supportive statements might ease her pain and suffering.

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May Wee, 40, is a grateful mother. Nor has she any regrets even though she had to give up a high-flying career as a marketing communications director in a financial services firm a year ago when her son Tolly came along. Indeed, after going through two agonising miscarriages, Wee treasures every single minute of being a stay-at-home-mum.

          While both experiences took an emotional and physical toll on her, a strong support system helped her deal with the devastating losses. What she wasn’t prepared for were the less-than-supportive comments that came her way. Wee recalls, “The most useless one was when a relative came to visit and talked about how she and her husband went through a voluntary abortion when they were younger… I really didn’t need to hear that.”  
           As many as one in four pregnancies end in a miscarriage, according to Hope Xchange a US-based organisation that supports those coping with miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. It may be fairly common, but pregnancy loss is still very much taboo topic in our society and many people are ill-equipped to support someone who has experienced it. 
          Notes marriage and family therapist Anoushka Beh, “Women who feel very isolated in their experience and internalise a lot of self-blame around the miscarriage tend to struggle a lot more with the loss than women who have a lot of social support.”
          So, the way you react to your friend or relative’s miscarriage news can go a long way in helping them heal. If you just can’t seem to find the right words, start with these statements.  

“Women may sometimes feel like they’ve let their partners down, or somehow failed ‘as a woman’ if they have a miscarriage.”

1) “It’s not your fault.”

These are four of the most important words a woman who has lost a baby needs to hear.  “Women may sometimes feel like they’ve let their partners down, or somehow failed ‘as a woman’ if they have a miscarriage,” Beh says. “It is not uncommon for her to experience a whole host of emotions, including anger, sadness, guilt, shame and disappointment in herself.” At this point, what they need to hear is that they aren’t to blame for what happened or that they couldn’t have done anything to prevent it.

SmartParents expert Dr Christopher Chong, a gynaecologist who practises at Chris Chong Women & Urogynae Clinic at Gleneagles Medical Centre, helps his patients work through the guilt by using medical facts to back up what he says. “I tell them it may well be nature's way of not letting what is not good enough to progress, rather than letting it progress to an abnormal child and suffering.”

2) “It’s okay to be sad.”

Whether you miscarried at six weeks or 16 weeks, it was a huge loss, nor does it mean that you grieve any less if there isn’t a physical body to mourn over. Her family and friends will also need to be more understanding as they should anticipate that the woman’s moods might fluctuate more than usual. “These feelings are usually underpinned by the body’s physical and hormonal changes that a woman will undergo after the miscarriage, which can influence mood and emotional regulation,” Beh points out. The best thing you can do is to provide her with the space in which she feels free to share her experience, so that you support her feelings.

Click here for more helpful things to say after a miscarriage