Vicky’s story – miscarriage and the workplace
Vicky shares her thoughts about how important it is for workplaces to support staff affected by pregnancy loss, reflecting on her own experience of a missed miscarriage.
I felt like I was walking around with this big secret, as no one even knew I was pregnant let alone had a miscarriage. At first, I let most of my colleagues think I had just been on holiday when actually I had been through the worst experience of my life. However, talking about it with family, friends and colleagues has really helped with my recovery.
1 in 4? Yes that’s right, one in four pregnancies in the UK end in miscarriage. I was surprised by this statistic too.
Back in May this year (2022), my husband and I were expecting our second baby and were told at the routine 12 week scan that sadly our baby had no heartbeat and a ‘missed miscarriage’ was diagnosed (when the body does not display any symptoms of miscarriage after a baby has died or pregnancy has not progressed). We were lucky enough to have a healthy 3 year old, but now we found ourselves suddenly plunged into the world of miscarriage that we knew so little about.
After the scan we were taken into a side room, given a leaflet to read and told that miscarriage affects 1 in 4 pregnancies in the UK. “It’s just one of those things”, “There’s nothing you could have done to change the outcome” the midwives told us. We left the hospital completely devastated with so many unanswered questions. I then had to go through the awful process of ‘expelling the pregnancy’ (I’ll spare you the details on this!).
So why am I telling you all this? Well, because there is so little support out there for families suffering from baby loss. The physical recovery from a miscarriage takes time, but the emotional recovery is often much longer. The heartache you feel is immense; it’s a very different kind of grief you experience and yet women and their partners are so often suffering in silence.
People just don’t talk about miscarriage and yet it is so common. Many women return to work feeling unable to tell their employer that they are suffering from a miscarriage for fear of the stigma attached to baby loss or fear they may be pushed out of their role or passed over for promotion for wanting to start a family and one day take maternity leave.
My physical recovery took around 6 weeks but my emotional recovery was much longer and returning to work after 3 weeks off was incredibly difficult. I felt like I was walking around with this big secret, as no one even knew I was pregnant let alone had a miscarriage.
At first, I let most of my colleagues think I had just been on holiday when actually I had been through the worst experience of my life. However, talking about it with family, friends and colleagues has really helped with my recovery. By opening up the conversation it allowed others to share that they had been through something similar, which provided comfort knowing we were not alone in our experience, as it can be a really isolating time.
I am lucky to work for a great company with amazing people who I felt I could open up to and who provided me with the support I needed through my miscarriage. I only hope more women and their partners can say the same – please take away from my story that creating a supportive team environment is crucial in helping both women and their partners through baby loss.