It's like a club no one wants to join and too often shrouded in silence, but having a miscarriage and then planning your return to work is often fraught with mixed and conflicting emotions. We look at some key issues and questions to ask yourself that will help you plan.
Staggeringly, although around one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, it's still one of the issues surrounding pregnancy that's too rarely discussed. It's not so much of a taboo as something that is passed over, often dismissed as a normal hazard of trying for a baby that women and their partners should just move swiftly on from.
While some miscarriages are so early that a woman may not even realise, even early pregnancies should not be dismissed because of timing as most are devastating to the people involved, with some late stage miscarriages being hugely traumatic.
Trying to get pregnant over and over and not being successful is a very emotional road. It can impact on emotional health and well-being as well as relationships with loved ones. Whatever the circumstances, many women will feel raw for a long time after and describe an overwhelming sadness, usually some anger and a sense of loneliness.
There is also often a sense that you are being judged and a feeling of failure which in turn can lead to self-blame, low self-worth and the issue of trying to conceive becoming all consuming.
Responses and reactions to a miscarriage will, of course, vary depending on the person and the stage the miscarriage occurs, but while time does eventually help to heal, it's important to recognise that this can be an extremely traumatic emotional experience and that:
Factors to Bear in Mind
Returning to Work: Practical Considerations
In addition to the emotion and physical toll of a miscarriage, many women will also feel pressure to just pick up and crack on without making a fuss. While the way forward will be as individual as you are, here are some things to think about, that may help ease planning your return into the workplace.
If it's an early miscarriage you may not have told anyone in the office you were pregnant yet and you may not even want your work colleagues to know you are trying for a baby.
What to do then?
Are you supposed to then tell everyone? Tell your manager? Tell your team? Work out who the most important people are that need to know to support you.
Other questions follow...
If it's a later miscarriage and colleagues did know you were pregnant, in addition to the above, it's advisable to create a plan for your return. Think about:
These questions all have intensely personal answers - none of which are right or wrong - and all will depend on how you feel in the instance if, as and when this happens.
Let's Not Forget This Affects Partners Too...
If you have suffered a miscarriage, while the expectation may be that partners just need to provide support but, it's worth also considering the above for them. It may be helpful for them to get support in dealing with their own grief, as well as advice on how to support their recovery.
For more information see stillbirth, premature birth and miscarriage charity: Tommy's