Why Is It Important to Talk About Miscarriage and Stillbirth?
Some people see baby loss, whether a miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death, as an event so horrific and life altering for the people affected that they won’t talk about it – even if those affected are friends and family.
In my opinion, this belief is misguided and can have an unintended impact on parents.
It doesn’t happen very often, so why talk about it?
When I first speak to parents one of the most common themes is the isolation they feel. It seems like they are the only person this has happened to, that there is no one to turn to for comfort and support and no one who can understand what they are going through.
They are definitely not alone. According to the Tommy’s website, in 2017 650 babies were miscarried and 14-15 babies were stillborn or died in the neonatal period every day, meaning an estimated one in four families are affected by baby loss.
Can talking about it really help?
People often struggle to know what to say to someone whose baby has died, because they are scared of saying something to make it worse. Often, the opposite is true – parents want to talk about their baby! Mentioning their name won’t make the pain any worse, or suddenly remind a parent of what has happened. Not mentioning their baby and the pain they are feeling is often much more damaging. You can feel reassured that the majority of bereaved parents want you to acknowledge their baby, but if they say “not now,” you’ll know they’re not ready to talk.
People often don’t want to talk about things that they find upsetting, but not talking about something doesn’t make it better. In fact, the opposite is true. If baby loss became a part of everyday conversation, parents would go into pregnancy better understanding the risks. Anticipating the best outcome, but understanding that if the worst should happen, they are not alone, and there are a number of organisations ready and willing to provide as much or as little support as they need.
Raising awareness of the issues which can arise in pregnancy, and how to spot the symptoms, can help save lives. There are a range of conditions which can cause harm to mum or baby. But if people feel comfortable discussing their experience it can help others know when to seek medical help or challenge advice given. I’m a big believer in the saying “knowledge is power”. Knowing and understanding that things could go wrong won’t increase the chance of it happening, but will mean we are all better armed to try and prevent it.
Has the ‘taboo’ already been broken?
For me, speaking about and to parents who have experienced baby loss is a part of my everyday life. It doesn’t feel taboo and I will talk about it as much as I can to anyone who will listen.
Over the past few years I personally feel there have been a number of steps in the right direction in terms of raising awareness. This has been hugely helped by story lines in mainstream soaps (Hollyoaks and Eastenders in 2015 and Coronation Street in 2017), celebrities discussing their own losses (Kym Marsh, Amanda Holden and Gary Barlow to name a few) and the rise of social media.
Hashtags such as #Breakingthesilence (Tommy’s) and #Findingthewords (Sands) are becoming more popular and are a great way of connecting those who don’t want to forget their babies, and why should they?
There is always more that can be done, though. In a perfect world, no family would experience baby loss but that simply isn’t possible. This makes it vital that we should all, whether we have felt this pain or not, help to break the taboo, support the heartbroken and help save lives by sharing knowledge. It sounds like a lot, but it is amazing what can be achieved simply by talking.
Talking to an Expert
We understand how important it is to get answers to your questions about the care that was given, and how difficult it can be for you to start talking about what happened. If you have concerns about negligent treatment, contact us today to find out how we can help you.