As you may know, 9th-15th October is Baby Loss Awareness week, something we care deeply about at H&B. We recognise the importance of listening to and helping colleagues through the distress of miscarriage and creating a supporting environment at work.
That’s why we’ve signed up to the Miscarriage Association Pregnancy Loss Pledge to improve support in the workplace for those who experience loss.
Our initiatives have included a pregnancy loss training guide for managers, return to work policy and pregnancy loss support programmes for our employees affected by loss led by Parla.
In this article, we’ll provide you with some key information about miscarriage and baby loss, plus an expert-led video so you’re a little less in the dark on this subject.
What is miscarriage?
The NHS describe a miscarriage as the loss of a pregnancy within the first 23 weeks.
However, it’s important to acknowledge that there are numerous forms of pregnancy and baby loss - and all can be extremely distressing. Losing a baby in the first trimester (the first 12 weeks of pregnancy) is classed as an early miscarriage.
Any time after that, but before 23 weeks, is known as a late miscarriage and after 23 weeks - this loss is technically a still birth.
There are also losses, like failed rounds of IVF or a molar pregnancy, that occur so early on that pregnancy may not have even been confirmed.
All losses, no matter what stage of pregnancy they occur, are heartbreaking for anyone trying to conceive and can trigger feelings of grief.
The NHS states that one of the main miscarriage symptoms people experience is vaginal bleeding. This is sometimes followed by cramping and pain in your lower stomach. If you have experienced or are experiencing this, please contact a GP or your midwife straight away.1
Whilst many miscarriages will come with physical symptoms, sometimes there will be no symptoms at all. This is known as a missed miscarriage and is usually only something that is discovered at a routine scan.
One of the most common questions around pregnancy loss is what causes miscarriages? There are lots of potential reasons that this might happen, but please know that pregnancy loss is never your fault the vast majority of them are not caused by anything you have done.
It can also be hard to identify what might have caused it, but it is thought that most miscarriages happen due to abnormal chromosomes in the baby.1
What is the emotional impact of miscarriage?
A miscarriage can often be a distressing time for everyone involved. It can be both emotionally and physically draining so if you are struggling, know you are not alone.
The vast majority of people who have experienced pregnancy loss say that it has an impact on their mental wellbeing.
For some this might mean navigating a range of emotions that come with grief - including anger guilt and confusion. Support groups and self-care practices can help with the healing process and whilst it might take time, it’s possible to move forward.
However for others the mental health impact might run a little deeper. It’s not uncommon for a miscarriage to trigger feelings of depression and anxiety, and research has shown that some people even develop PTSD.2
If you are concerned about your mental health, never delay talking to your GP and giving them a full overview of how you are feeling.
The shame and stigma surrounding miscarriage can stop those effected reaching out for support, so it’s essential that we break the taboo and get talking.
When asked about feelings of guilt after miscarriage, psychotherapist and counsellor who specialises in miscarriage and baby loss, Julia Bueno makes the point that:3
“It’s a very rare bereaved woman after a miscarriage that doesn’t express guilt and it baffles me how creative the female mind can be – I’ve heard women blame themselves for playing tennis, having sex, cleaning the fridge, standing too close to the oven.
Part of it is social conditioning of women to feel responsible for other people’s welfare from a young age. But there’s also something very human about us trying to make patterns out of chaos and lack of reason, and miscarriage and fertility are saturated with so much ‘not knowing’ and lack of concrete reasons.
Only half of the couples leaving a recurrent miscarriage clinic after all their tests will be given a reason why.”
Your feelings of grief and sadness after the experience of baby loss are absolutely valid. So if you feel you need it, thankfully there are many support networks you can reach out to.
These include charity groups and counselling to help you navigate your grief. In addition to this, there are also support programmes designed specifically for people who are going through or have gone through baby loss.
We’re working hand-in-hand with Parla to give colleagues access to free baby loss support programmes. These cover a range of topics such as Navigating Grief After Loss and a New Pregnancy After Loss.
These programmes are led by experts in pregnancy loss, mental health and wellbeing, to give you guidance and advice you can trust. You can learn more and book a spot here so you can get the support you need.
We continue to spotlight awareness dates internally to help educate colleagues and to lead with empathy all year round.
The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
Last updated: 13 October 2022