IT’S arguably one of the hardest things anyone can face – losing a child.
Yet, it’s more common than most people realise.
Baby loss can take many, agonising forms – miscarriage, stillbirth and ectopic pregnancies to name a few.
One in four couples will have to face losing a baby to miscarriage – before 23 weeks, according to the charity Tommy’s.
And for some women life can be even more cruel with one in 100 suffering recurrent miscarriages, defined as three in a row.
Meanwhile, ectopic pregnancies – where an embryo implants outside the womb – happen in around 11 in 1,000 pregnancies.
And one in every 225 pregnancies end in stillbirth – that’s nine stillborn babies born each day in the UK.
Behind these statistics lies incalculable heartache and trauma.
For many, who suffer a miscarriage before the 12-week mark, this can be a trauma they cope with silently, having not shared their news with family and friends.
Many who haven’t been touched by such tragedy can be tactless. Or worse, they can make extremely hurtful remarks adding pain to the existing trauma
Dr Pam Spurr
Yet, for those who do share their tragic loss, it can be hard to face the well-meaning reactions of loved ones.
It’s hard to understand the depth of loss, unless you’ve experienced baby loss yourself, Dr Pam Spurr, a self-help expert warns.
“Unfortunately, many who haven’t been touched by such tragedy can be tactless,” she told The Sun.
“Or worse, they can make extremely hurtful remarks adding pain to the existing trauma.”
To mark Baby Loss awareness week Dr Pam has compiled a series of things to avoid saying to loved ones who have lost their baby.
She added: “There are things you can do to be supportive and, trust me, parents going through baby loss need your support.”
Here Dr Pam shares the seven things to avoid saying…
1. ‘You can try again’
Don’t you get it? They have just lost their baby.
They want – and need – to grieve for that baby. They don’t want to think about the future, they’re in too much pain right now.
And they want you to know their baby counted.
2. ‘It wasn’t really a baby’
Often, when a woman suffers a miscarriage early in her pregnancy, they can be met with the response that, it wasn’t a real baby because they lost it so soon.
Nope, it was their baby.
It was their hopes and dreams for a happy pregnancy and birth of a child that you have just batted away with a few cruel words.
3. ‘Everything happens for a reason’
Is there really some mystical reason out there in the universe that means their baby didn’t count?
Such platitudes are hugely damaging.
4. ‘At least you got pregnant’
Yes, she did get pregnant. And yes, some people can’t even get that far.
But then she lost her longed-for and much-loved baby.
It’s never a consolation prize, and by saying ‘at least you got pregnant’, that’s exactly what you’re suggesting.
It’s well meaning, but in the midst of a couple’s tragic loss, it can just add to their heartbreak.
5. ‘At least you already have kids’
Does already being a parent somehow mean you don’t care about the next baby you hoped for?
Does it mean these parents don’t feel the weight of pain at losing a baby?
No, of course not.
They’re grieving like any childless couple would be, and comments like this dismiss their grief.
6. ‘You’re young, you’ve got time’
The idea that time is on your side, is not a comforting one when you’ve just lost a baby.
Suggesting that further down the line, this won’t matter is wrong.
Just because someone is young doesn’t mean baby loss hurts any the less.
Whatever your age, the love for the baby growing inside of you is the same.
And so the grief at losing them, is just as agonising.
7. ‘It was only your first attempt’
Does that really mean this baby didn’t count?
Just because it is a couple’s first pregnancy, doesn’t mean it means less to them.
Every baby matters, and every baby is loved.
So what can you do to help?
1. Be honest and simply say you’re lost for words – it’s far better than saying something that will cause more upset
2. Tell them you’re there for them
3. Ask how you can help
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4. Tell them you don’t want to intrude on their grief but that you’re there to lend an ear and a shoulder to cry on
5. Remember saying ‘time heals’ doesn’t help – it’s better to say, ‘I don’t know what to say’
6. Don’t stay silent and say nothing – that can be worse than anything, it makes such a difference to hear someone is there for you
7. Suggest they check out charities like Tommy’s and Saving Goodbye for advice, support and information.
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