Why we need to talk about Miscarriage & Infant Loss
I treat women through all phases of their reproductive cycles. While I work with many women who have chosen to not have children, the majority of my patients are actively trying to conceive, are pregnant, or in the postpartum period. I celebrate with my patients when they get a positive pregnancy test or give birth to their child, and I grieve with them when they lose a child to miscarriage, stillbirth, or SIDS.
The process of losing a child during pregnancy or infancy can be incredibly painful, both physically and emotionally. It may involve surgery, weeks of bleeding, medication or even laboring a lost child. This is in addition to the deep grief that comes with losing a son or daughter all too soon.
Some women are traumatized by it for months or even years, some are more conscious of how they carry the trauma than others.
I'm honored to be of service to women, especially during difficult times like these. Acupuncture and herbal medicine can support the mind-body-spirit during the process, whether it involves blood loss, chronic pain, hormonal imbalances, or grief and anxiety. But I've found that simply listening and acknowledging a woman's feelings can be the most impactful offering during a process that otherwise usually happens quite silently.
Even though there are 13 babies lost to SIDS each day, 1% of pregnancies end in stillbirth and as many as 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, these are still considered taboo subjects.
I can't tell you how often I hear from women who suffer from pregnancy or infant loss, and when they return to work their office is completely silent, or when they reach out to their family they at met with discomfort and diversions. Often no one asks how they are feeling. No one says they are sorry for their loss. No one acknowledges anything happened at all.
The obvious reason is because it's scary, it's sad, it's uncomfortable. But more than that, I find people simply don't know what to say. They don't think any words would actually help, so they opt for silence or changing the subject in hopes of offering some distraction as the next best option.
I'm here to tell you that silence is not the answer.
While it's true there are no magical words which guarantee to make everything better, know that it is not your job to take someone else's pain away. Just the simple act of being present, showing empathy, asking how they are feeling and listening with an open heart. This can be incredibly powerful and healing.
Discussing miscarriage and infant loss can get sad or uncomfortable, but that's because it is a sad and uncomfortable event for most of those who experience it. That fact doesn't change whether or not it gets discussed, but talking about our feelings does help to exercise them. It helps us to process what has happened and how we feel about it.
The alternative of hiding those feelings away or pretending they don't exist, does nothing but let the emotions fester and lurk into something much more painful and powerful. Silence perpetuates pain, which is all too prevalent already.
Simply talking honestly and opening the conversation has the incredible power to release millions of woman from some of the pain they carry because of their loss. Simply asking and listening has profound effects on mental health. Simply letting someone know you are there for them can change everything for someone who otherwise is feeling completely alone.
October is SIDS, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. If you know someone who has suffered from the loss of a pregnancy or an infant, consider reaching out. Let them know you're there for them if they ever need anything, even just to talk.