On April 16 we hosted our very first virtual Circle of Support panel webinar for our community of women seeking support and validation and a sense of belonging during this isolating time. We also wanted to acknowledge the extra components of detachment that come with the physical distancing experienced during this pandemic. We can’t just go and see mum or a friend for a cry and a cuddle, nor can they pop over to just sit with you while you grieve.
To try and be that virtual replacement during this lonely time, we brought together some amazing panellists who all gifted their time and expertise to support, nurture and empower our community.
Here are a few key takeaways from the session:
It’s completely normal to feel like you have to minimise your grief and therefore forgo access to help and support when you suffer a miscarriage. For many it may be a new type of grief and you don’t know if you even have the right to grieve your baby as a ‘real’ loss, because for anyone other than yourself and your partner, your pregnancy, your baby wasn’t something tangible.
Unlike other more ‘acceptable’ losses involving sickness, old age, a child, loss of a job, a house or a marriage, where the loss can be felt or recognised by others, society has minimalised and disenfranchised miscarriage because unless they’ve experienced it, it’s impossible for them to understand, to know what to say or how to react. This can come across to you as though the loss of your baby is not validated. IT IS.
It’s also totally normal to feel further disenfranchised with your grief during this pandemic. You may feel even more deprived of the right or privilege to grieve your loss because of what is happening in the world right now. Please know that one is not exclusive of the other; you’ve still lost your baby and you have every right to grieve for them, pandemic or no pandemic. Please do still ask for help or support, and what kind you need, when you need it.
Make sure you look after the core pillars of self-care and health
Use this forced isolation as a time for your body to reset and to concentrate on preconception health.
Eating: Not under, over or forgetting to. Focus on good nutrition: lots of protein and 4-5 cups of veggies each day.
Caffeine: Keeping caffeine to a minimal is best, but of course use common sense. Aim for one good coffee a day.
Alcohol: The rule of thumb is to keep alcohol to an absolute minimum, especially if you are actively trying to conceive.
Sugar: Sugar in high quantities can be linked to inhibiting endometrial function and implantation and interfering with placental development.
Sleeping: Aim for 7-8 hours’ sleep each night. If you’re having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, perhaps try some soothing meditation podcasts before bed.
Exercising: Gentle or moderate exercise to the best way to release your natural endorphins (happy hormones!) and strengthen immunity.
Water: The ideal is 30g per ml of body weight every day, so a 70kg person should be drinking 2.1litres of water each day.
Any other self-care ideas are anything that makes YOU feel good.
Don’t be afraid to talk about what’s happened to you. It’s important for you and your partner to try and make time where you share your feelings about your loss. Grief is an individual experience and can be manifested in different ways, so it’s vital for each of you to have an opportunity to express what you’re going through and know that the way the other person is feeling is ok, even if it’s different to you. Also reassure your partner that everything you’re both going through is normal and temporary and that you will get through it together.
Pandemic or not, it’s so important to reconnect as a couple and schedule in special time together. This also includes having sex for fun, not just tying to conceive!
Talking to and educating family and friends about miscarriage may feel like a daunting/an extra burden on your shoulders, but it could be a way for you to acknowledge and validate your loss with them, as well as help with changing how society as a whole views and talks about miscarriage.
Acknowledging and marking the loss could be something meaningful you do annually on either the date of your loss or the due date of that baby, that you could even include your future children in. Some examples of ways to mark a loss could be:
- Writing a letter that acknowledges the loss of your hopes and dreams for them
- Putting your ultrasound pictures in a box and burying it in the garden, or a pot plant if you’re renting
- Lighting a candle as a sign of remembrance, especially on October 15, International Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day.
- Planting a tree or flower that blossoms at the time of the anniversary each year
- Buying a beautiful piece of jewellery in memory of your baby
- Doing something altruistic that supports others
Note: it’s best for wait at least 6 months for any permanent changes eg. tattoos, because trauma changes over this time.
Pink Elephants are here to hold space for you, make meaningful connections and as a supportive community. We understand, normalise, nurture, comfort, relieve loneliness, and are present in your grief. If you need any support, an ear to just listen, a telephone to cry down, a private group to vent in, to e-meet others going through miscarriage at the same time as you, to find relevant and trusted information, what is “normal” or how you should be feeling, if you are a healthcare or workplace provider and need more information for others, we can provide what you need.
We have free downloadable resources and a Peer Support Programme where you can book a call with a Support Ambassador who’s been through loss too. Or head to our Facebook page and join one of our private support groups. We’re here for you.
A huge thanks to our wonderful host and fantastic panellists:
Tahyna MacManus: Director, writer, producer and actress who is releasing a documentary about her miscarriages later this year. #misunderstandingsofmiscarriage
Belinda Kirkpatrick: Naturopath and Nutritionist who specialises in natural fertility, family, and women’s health care. www.belindakirkpatrick.com.au.
Terri Diamond: Perinatal Social Worker at the Royal Hospital for Women who specialises in the loss of a baby or child up to 6 yrs.
Maggi McDonald: one of our amazing Peer Support Ambassadors and very talented artist. www.maggimcdonald.com
Sam Payne: CEO of Pink Elephants Support Network