It’s not that long ago that early pregnancy was hidden, only to be revealed at the celebrated 12-week scan when ‘everything is ok’.
The problem of course is that everything is not ok for a very significant percentage of pregnant women and couples trying to get pregnant.
It’s thought that about 1 in 6 couples will experience infertility and 1 in 4 pregnancies will end in miscarriage before the end of the first trimester. And while pregnancy loss is uncommon in the second and third trimesters, it still happens.
But just as society has become more comfortable talking about mental health battles and challenging sexist and racist behaviours, so too are we opening up about the pain and grief of pregnancy loss and infertility.
According to Fertility SA Counsellor Rebecca Kerner, the ability to share difficult experiences and speak openly is beneficial for most people who experience pregnancy loss and infertility.
“Allowing people to share their story, in their way and in their time, is something we need to give people the space to do,” Rebecca says.
Knowing you are not alone
Rebecca says when she speaks to people experiencing infertility and pregnancy loss, often people do not realise how many people are experiencing the same journey. Sometimes knowing how many people are experiencing pregnancy loss can make a difference.
Rebecca believes that anybody who has the courage to share their journey about their fertility and pregnancy loss openly can help others in feeling less alone.
Not everyone grieves the same
When it comes to the grief of infertility and pregnancy loss, Rebecca says there is no right or wrong way to respond but to encourage people to find their way to experience the situation
“Some people move through grief quickly, while others it takes longer, the importance is to experience in their own unique way and not to compare to others.
For friends and family members supporting someone they love through infertility and pregnancy loss, Rebecca encourages these people to support their loved ones to experience grief in their way and not to judge.
For many the pregnancy may be only for a few weeks, but it’s very hard not to envision your future as a parent and get excited by that prospect. If it’s been difficult to conceive or the person is getting closer to 40, then there is the added fear that they may not get another opportunity.”
Find the right way for you to share
Rebecca says her advice to anyone experiencing pregnancy loss or infertility would be to know it is ok to find the right way for them to share.
“Talking about your experience and doing what feels right for you, and finding someone you can talk to. It might be a friend or family member, or it might be a counsellor.
It’s not just women who need to talk
For couples who are experiencing pregnancy loss and infertility, Rebecca says it is important to remember that each person will experience grief differently.
“While women experience both the physical and mental sides of pregnancy loss and infertility, men can also feel grief as well as being worried about their partner. While women have made significant progress in being more open to talk about their feelings, I feel there is more to be done to normalise men also being able to talk openly and without judgement.”
Seek help if you need it
Working with women and couples accessing fertility treatment and dealing with pregnancy loss, Rebecca says her advice would be to seek help if you feel you need it, or are struggling to deal with day to day life.
There are a range of counselling services and psychologists who specialise in pregnancy loss, Fertility SA clients also have access to counselling sessions.
Two other excellent organisations for support for those experiencing pregnancy loss are: