We all know someone who has been through a miscarriage. It occurs in almost 15% to 20% of all pregnancies and about 80% of them occur in the first trimester. Even though the stats say so, it doesn’t make them any less devastating.
A woman who goes through this loss feels it more because it is after all the mother who houses the baby since day 1. While for others, the baby is still an idea, a concept, to a mother, it is as real as it gets. It is natural for a mother to feel this loss more severely.
We don’t talk about miscarriages and such losses in our society for a number of reasons.
- There is still a huge number of people who think it was due to some mistake on the part of mother or both parents.
- A large number of our people are still stuck in sexist standards, deducing that a miscarriage happened because of some “kamzori” on the part of either the mother or the father.
- Lack of understanding by people who generally say “it was a fetus, not a baby!”, or something like, “it didn’t have a heartbeat, it wasn’t real!”.
- Blaming the mother for not being woman enough to be able to sustain a pregnancy.
- Considering it a taboo.
- Believe it or not, a huge number of our population still thinks this way.
Things not to say (AT ALL!) to someone who just had a loss:
Unless you want to sound completely ignorant and insensitive, you must be careful with your words while around someone who is going through a miscarriage or just had one. Things that seem normal and logical to us might not go too well with someone in suffering because only they know their sense of loss and vulnerability. It hits everyone in a different way, a lot of which depends on the kinds of positive support they get from the people around them.
Here is a small list of things you should absolutely and under no circumstances say to someone in this condition. This is just a starter list on being more empathetic towards someone going through loss. The rest, we leave on your fine sense of judgement.
- “At least it wasn’t a real baby.” This is by far the most common, and sadly the most insensitive advice people going through a loss can get. No we don’t want to be given a lecture on medical science on how it was a fetus or still an embryo, for us it was a baby, a future… someone who was going to be eventually in our arms but now, never will.
- “Well, at least you can get pregnant.” Each pregnancy is special. Each child, unborn or born holds a place in the mother’s heart and she hopes to meet him or her in this world or the next.
- “May be you should/shouldn’t have…” Are you really an expert on this? Because if you’re anything less than an expert you should keep your should/shouldn’t have list to yourself. This is the worst thing you can say to someone who just had a loss. Not only are you making them feel guilty that it was their fault, you are also filling them with regret. Do us a favor: keep away. You heard that right, we don’t need that kind of negativity around us.
- “It’s better than having a child born with problems.” I ask you again, are you an expert on this? I have faith that whatever happens, happens by the will of Allah. I also, for a fact, believe in HIS rehmah that if He would have given me this child, the child would have been perfect. How do you explain perfect healthy pregnancies resulting in children with some issues? How can you claim to predict the ways in which God works?
- “It happens all the time!” Yes it does, and it is quite common. It doesn’t make the pain less for the parents. A parent’s love is unconditional and it doesn’t matter how common it is. A would-be child is a dream every parent looks forward to. Don’t deny this to us. BONUS POINTS AHEAD:
- “Are you sure it’s not your hormones?” Thank you for reminding me I may have a hormonal imbalance that killed my baby. Yes I have a hormonal mess up, but that is because my body has suddenly discovered it isn’t pregnant anymore. My body is out of whack and my heart is broken. I am in no mood to get into numbers and reports. Let me heal, spare me the pain.
- “Why do you keep miscarrying? You should get thoroughly checked.” Repeated miscarriages take a big toll on the mother’s body. The tests aren’t easy and waiting for a positive pregnancy test, only to lose the baby each time is a pain of its own kind. Psychologically, the mother eventually loses faith that her body will support her as she wants. Stress is a vicious cycle and your words won’t be helping much if you keep suggesting such things.
UPDATE: Here are some more comments some of my friends suggested after reading this article:
- “That’s what happens when you marry late!”
- “Didn’t we tell you to rest? After all, a woman’s place is at home.”
- “It’s the diet. With so much fast food and crap that you girls eat, one is bound to develop issues.”
- “Shouldn’t have announced your pregnancy so early. Now see you caught the evil eye!”
- “Why didn’t you wear the taaweez I had made for you? It would have protected the baby.” (This is mostly a superstitious relative.)
- “May be you were carrying a boy/girl (insert gender of their choice here). When you carry a boy/girl, the baby usually has (insert countless maladies particular to that gender here).” May we add, that this is completely baseless, unless backed by doctors and science.
- My friends, a miscarriage may be loss of a fetus to you, but to some couple, it was loss of a dream. Most couples go on to have healthy babies afterwards but in that time of loss, they need our support and kind words. Sometimes, it is not necessary that you must say something. It is okay to accept that you do not have words if you really don’t know what to say.
Babies lost in the womb are real. To some women, they are as close as they ever came to having a baby. Don’t disregard their motherhood by calling it a fetus or something without a heartbeat.
Babies lost in the womb were always warm. They always knew they were loved.
Be kind to someone you know who is going through such a loss. The good you do will come back to you manifold.