Pregnancy loss, whether through miscarriage or stillbirth, is very devastating for expecting parents. And while you still have to process this news and give yourself time to grieve, having family members, friends or co-workers ask about the pregnancy or what happened can be an added burden.
So, how do you address those awkward questions about losing the baby without making it too taxing for you?
Here are some common questions people ask about your pregnancy and how to navigate breaking the sad news to others, while also looking after your well-being.
Image source: iStock
First things first: Remember that even though you might be worried about how to talk about miscarriage, you are not obligated to share any details with anyone if you’re not willing to do so. If a high school friend or even your mother asks and you don’t want to share, then don’t.
“What Happened? Why Did You Miscarry/Have a Stillbirth?”
If you do want to talk about it, give the details that you’re okay with sharing. Raphael O. Inocencio, RPsy, Managing Director and Licensed Clinical Psychologist at Better Steps Psychology, Inc, suggests,
“You don’t have to do something just because other people tell you to go ahead and do it. But always, treat others with respect so that you can show them your boundaries and so they can respect those boundaries.
Just say that ‘I’m not comfortable talking about this. I’m still grieving my loss and it’s a big loss, so I hope you can understand why I don’t want to talk about this. I would appreciate it more if we can talk about something else for now.’”
If they ask other follow-up questions that make you uncomfortable, you can just simply say:
“I’m not comfortable with talking about it, I know you’ll be okay not knowing about it. I’ll talk about it more when I’m ready.”
“Did You Do Anything That Made You Miscarry?”
Most people don’t ask this question with the intention of blaming the woman for the miscarriage, sometimes it’s out of curiosity, or plainly just for the sake of asking another question.
But for a woman who has just lost a child, you’ve probably already replayed your entire past thinking about what you could have done differently so that you maybe would have had a successful pregnancy, and blamed yourself tremendously for what happened. Mum Monica went through this, and she advises,
“Don’t waste energy taking this personally because people who ask such questions ultimately come from a place of not knowing. Because they have not experienced it, they are naturally curious or sincerely wanting to talk to you without being very mindful of how it can come across.
So, remind yourself that nothing you would have done could have reversed a pregnancy that naturally terminated itself.”
As much as you would want to lash out and give that person a piece of your mind, or cry over how hurt the question made you feel, take a step back and simply answer: “It just happened, and I don’t wish it to happen to anyone.”
“Why don’t you have children yet?” or “When are you going to have another one?”
Mums or women who reach a certain age get these questions all the time, some from family members or friends, some from mere acquaintances. These questions are by no means asked because the person wants to hurt you—they simply don’t know about the miscarriage or the stillbirth.
And given that they lack knowing those facts about you, you have two options: You can open up about your loss and your reasons for not having a child or any more children, or you can do what Abi* did when she was asked about when she was going to have children. She shares,
“There were many times people would come up to me and ask me why we still don’t have kids, and I would simply smile and say it’s not yet time.
Now looking back, I would tell them about my miscarriages, to create awareness that it’s rude to ask these questions because women’s wombs go through different journeys.”
“How’s the baby?”
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This question is considered small talk usually opened up by someone who knew you were pregnant, probably through a friend or via social media, and they assume that you’ve already given birth since the last time you saw each other or came across your feed.
There’s no way around avoiding the awkwardness of the conversation and crying or overreacting won’t help the situation, either.
Say what you feel like replying at that moment, but usually a simple, “The baby’s in heaven now,” or if you want a non-religious approach, you can opt to reply, “The baby didn’t make it,” and leave it at that. Real friends would leave it at that, and perhaps give you a hug, to let you know that you’re not alone.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
Image source: iStock
Women often don’t know who to talk to or approach when they suffer a miscarriage or stillbirth, and they’re paralysed into going through the grief alone. Some women suffer in silence, but opening up about your feelings and your grief to someone might help you come to terms with your sadness.
At this point, you actually don’t need someone to tell you what you could have done differently to avoid the miscarriage or stillbirth, or to judge you for what you went through or how you’re feeling.
What you need is a sounding board—that could be your partner, husband, family member, or a trusted friend who you can open up to without fear of being reprimanded or judged. Sometimes simply talking about it, releasing what you feel into the world, is what we need to take those first few steps to move on.
Figuring out how to talk about miscarriage when people ask questions isn’t a science. There isn’t a single right approach, but we hope that with these responses in mind, you’ll be more prepared if it happens to you.
Tips on Talking About Pregnancy Loss
The news about the loss of your baby is the hardest on you, mum. So it is totally understandable if you want to avoid talking about it right now. But if you must address them, here are some tips that can help make the process easier.
- Keep it simple. There’s no sense beating around the bush. Simply say, “We lost the baby. Our doctor says it happens sometimes,” is enough. You are not required to elaborate or answer any more questions if you don’t want to.
- Send a text or email. For your children and close family members, you might need to tell them in person. However, for friends and co-workers, just sending one large email blast (with a short and direct message) could save you the stress compared to trying to tell everyone in person.
- Ask your partner or a close friend or relative to help you break the news. If you’re still trying to process your feelings but need other people to know about the pregnancy loss, asking someone else to spread the word could take some pressure off of you so that you can take your time dealing with the news yourself.
- Address, “What can I do to help?” Your closest friends and family may want to ease your pain and burden, but they are unsure how. It’s not your job to make them feel better about this news, but if they offer to help, take them up on it and let them know what you need. Asking for prayers would suffice, or asking them to watch your kids for a couple of hours just so you can think can make things easier for you.
Remember, you don’t owe anyone an explanation about what happened. You don’t have to share anything if you are not ready to do it. Take all the time you need, mum. Those who care for you will not take it against you and respect your silence.
Virtual hug from all of us, mum.
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