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Sunday, 24 April 2011

Miscarriage & Infant Loss - 10 Things not to say to women following miscarriage and infant loss

I have thought long and hard about writing this post as it is deeply personal. I have met many women who have experienced loss through miscarriage, stillbirth & infant loss. I, too have experienced losses of this nature and I have been met with some thoughtless and in some ways unbelievable comments. I wish to inform others and ask you to respectfully consider carefully how you might respond to women who have miscarried and/or lost their baby. I have created a 10 point list for you to consider. Please think carefully before you greet a mother's loss and please DO NOT say any of the following

Ten things not to say to women after miscarriage or infant loss

1. How many weeks pregnant were you? This is irrelevant and thoughtless. A baby is a baby. And loss is loss.

2. Oh well, it was obviously meant to be. What does this mean? If you lose a baby and a thoughtless person says this it appears to hold an inconsiderate quality that may be experienced as hurtful and insensitive. How can losing a baby be "meant to be?"

3. It was God's will. Some people believe in God and in god's will and others don't. Don't expect all mothers who have lost their infant to feel that God's will is a good enough reason for taking their baby from them.

4. Don't worry you can try again for another baby. Allow the mother to decide when and if she wants to try for another baby. We are not here to suggest to a grieving mother she can try for another baby or that she can replace her 'lost' infant with another. Allow the mother to decide for herself.

5. 'It' wasn't over twelve weeks so 'it' wasn't really a baby. Some people may be surprised to read this but I can tell you from both personal and professional experience that this is still said to mothers following loss.

6. It wasn't your time. What does this mean? Again I have heard this first hand and though my practice. What gives any one other human being the right to tell another "it wasn't your time?" There is no good time to lose a baby. There is no bad time to lose a baby either. A loss needs to be considered and thought about in the way the mother chooses not in any other way.

7. There's no point focusing on what could have been - you need to move on. Yes this is another example of a comment proffered by an unhelpful relative or clinician. Yes, in theory I am all for moving forward but loss of any nature needs to grieved over. Give the mother a chance to heal and move forward when she is ready and NOT WHEN YOU FEEL she ought to be!

8. You'll feel better in no time. Again don't tell people how they feel or indicate when they might feel better. It's pressurising for some to hear words of this nature.

9. Well make the most of your time without babies because once they come.....Frankly this is another thoughtless point to make. We all know when we have children our time with our partners becomes shared with our children. It feels like another insensitive comment to make. It will not be perceived as helpful trust me I know!

10. Finally following stillbirth and late infant loss please DO NOT talk about miscarriage. Women who lose their babies almost full term and then subsequently go on to deliver their babies knowing they are dead inside of them DO NOT consider their loss as miscarriage.

I am asking you to consider the above in support of women, miscarriage and infant loss. I do not profess to have all the answers but I can speak from the heart about the most ridiculous comments made to me following my losses.

I have 2 further things to mention in this blog. Please consider fully the feelings of the partners of the women who have lost their infants. These men and women will be experiencing this loss too. And finally I understand loss for some of you will be difficult but please DO SAY something. In announcing a loss of this nature and being met with a deafening silence is also not the answer.

I hope this blog has given you some concrete ideas about what not to say. I would love to hear your thoughts and your personal stories in response to this. Thank you for taking the time to consider what not to say in relation to miscarriage and infant loss.

1 comment:

  1. I sadly lost one of my identical twin boys at 23 weeks. Im on bedrest to ensure the safety of my surviving son. My mother in law comes over and makes a joke about me being in my robe and sitting on the couch. Am I crazy or is she totally inappropriate?