lifestyle

Four things not to say to someone who's had a miscarriage.

A couple of week ago, my friend shared some great news with me. She was pregnant. While I squealed in excitement with her, I realised I didn’t even know she was trying.

So I was even more surprised to learn that my friend and her partner had been trying a long time; that this was her 3rd pregnancy. And that the other two had resulted in miscarriages.

My friend explained how weird the situation had been for her. Doctors say you shouldn’t tell people you are pregnant until you reach three months, in case you miscarry. (Miscarriage is most likely to occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy) And then when you do miscarry…what are you supposed to say? I was pregnant but not anymore?

I could clearly tell that talking about the miscarriages were hard for my friend. That they had impacted her so much that she felt like she couldn’t fall in love with her 3rd pregnancy just in case (she had also spent the last four months with her head in a bucket – morning sickness).

But what she next told me made me furious. Some of the very few people she did tell about her miscarriages were quite insensitive. Giving her pep talks about how it wasn’t that bad as she wasn’t “too pregnant” or that “at least she could get pregnant” when all she wanted to do was mourn. Or saying they were glad they didn’t give her their baby’s hand-me-downs yet…because clearly she wouldn’t need them anymore.

After I calmed down I realised that being told your friend/family member/colleague has suffered a miscarriage can be quiet shocking. And you can totally put your foot in it.

So with the help of my friend and some research on miscarriage on-line support forums, here are five things you shouldn’t say to someone who has shared with you that they have had a miscarriage:

1. “Oh, I am so glad I didn’t give you my baby hand-me-downs/pregnancy book/second-hand pram.”

“Don’t worry, it was just the size of a pea anyway.”

While it might be far easier to carry on the conversation talking about you, this is apparently not the time to make it about you. Don’t mention that of all the days, today was the day you remembered to bring the baby books. Or don’t ask for your baby hand-me-downs back. Don’t talk about any of this. And if she brings it up “Oh, I should give you your baby books back?” the best thing is to tell her to not worry about it at the moment.

2. “Don’t worry, it was just the size of a pea anyway.”

Deciding to get pregnant is a huge thing. You analyse your life to see whether it is a good time (do you have enough money, do you have enough stability, are you ready to put your career on hold, do you need to increase your health care, are all your vitamins at a good level). Then you have to have sex with the intention of getting pregnant (when you have just spent the whole of your sexual history trying NOT to get pregnant). Then every 28 days you anxiously wait for your period not to come. Add to this all the pressure on you from friends and family.

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So when you do finally pee on a stick and get a positive result, have a blood test with a positive result and have an ultrasound, you are already heavily invested in the baby. And whether it is the size of a pea, tomato or mango, losing the baby is a huge loss – emotionally and physically. Whether you are 6 weeks or 12 weeks.

3. “Well, at least you can get pregnant.”

True, at least they know they can get pregnant. And that could be the silver lining. But you might also not know how much they had to do to get pregnant. They might have had IVF, or been struggling for a long time to get pregnant.

In addition, depending on how fresh the miscarriage is, they might not be ready for silver linings. They might still be grieving and still really upset. And your silver lining might seem like you are trying to dismiss their heart-ache.

“There is a common belief that in order to get pregnant you need to be relaxed, and in order to avoid a miscarriage you should be relaxed.”

4. “You should have relaxed more.”

There is a common belief that in order to get pregnant you need to be relaxed, and in order to avoid a miscarriage you should be relaxed. I doubt this is medically correct…however, at no stage should you lay any type of blame (not matter how small) on them. Trust me, they are already examining every life choice they made before and during the pregnancy. They don’t need anyone else adding to it. Especially if it only makes them feel worse.

So what do you say to someone who tells you they had a miscarriage?

While it is pretty subjective and you need to frame your response on the person. My friend said she wished people just said “That sucks”. Or “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

You might feel like you want to make them happy but instead give them space to cry and understand if they aren’t acting like themselves. You can make them some healthy dinners to quickly warm up when they don’t feel like doing anything. Or you can give them a friendly call just to talk.

The main thing is to be there for them during this time of grief and loss.

If you or a loved one need to talk to someone, please consider calling Sands Australia who specialise in supporting those grieving from a miscarriage, stillbirth, newborn death or termination for medical purposes on 1300 0 SANDS or 1300 0 72637.

If you have had a miscarriage, what do you think about how to talk to someone who had a miscarriage? What is the one thing you wish someone would’ve said to you?

A project very close to our hearts at Mamamia is an ebook we’re producing about how to cope with miscarriage, stillbirth and pregnancy loss. We’ll be publishing it shortly but we’re in need of an experienced graphic designer willing to work pro-bono to design the book and cover. It’s a beautiful book that we hope will be a comfort to women when they need it, but also raise much needed funds for Heartfelt and Sids & Kids. If you can help or know someone who can please email [email protected] Previous ebook design experience is essential.

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