Addressing the stigma of miscarriage
Dr. Kate Prozeller from Thrive Wellbeing Centre sheds light on the emotional challenges and self-blame often associated with miscarriage.
In an age where open dialogue and de-stigmatisation of sensitive topics are increasingly prevalent, one issue remains shrouded in silence for many women: miscarriage. Miscarriage, a painful and emotionally challenging event that affects countless couples and families worldwide, is still a subject that many people find difficult to broach.
Dr Kate Prozeller from Thrive Wellbeing Centre comments, “We tend to have a lot of self-blame, believing that something we did wrong resulted in losing the baby. We search for an explanation for an unexplainable tragedy. We may even fear that our partners will resent us or feel that our bodies have failed us. This is often overlaid with worries about the future if we try to become pregnant again”.
We often hear an old saying that women shouldn’t share the news of their pregnancy until after the first trimester – the implication is that because the risk of miscarriage is higher early in pregnancy, they shouldn’t risk having to tell their loved ones about a miscarriage. It is another way we keep the stigma of miscarriage alive by asking women not to trouble their loved ones with their loss. In other words, she is asked to suffer in silence. According to recent data at the National Institute of Health, 23 million pregnancy losses occur annually – that is 44 pregnancy losses each minute – many suffering in silence.
Some women may feel that their loss is not valid when they have a miscarriage. They compare themselves to women who have lost a child carried to term, minimising the enormity of their own experience and denying themselves permission to grieve.
Some women may never feel entirely comfortable talking to their friends and family about their loss. But grief is complicated to overcome without talking, and that’s where therapy and support groups can be helpful. Here, they can find empathic, experienced professionals who can validate their feelings and give them the tools to navigate their grief.
While society is doing better at acknowledging and supporting women’s experiences of loss in miscarriage, we should also remember that fathers can also experience an intense sense of loss. Men are often discouraged from discussing these feelings and may be reluctant to voice their own grief as they feel they need to be strong for their partner. They may feel safer and better able to discuss these emotions with a professional therapist with whom they don’t need to maintain the persona of a strong, supportive partner.