The Miscarriage Association runs campaigns to raise awareness about pregnancy loss amongst employers and in workplaces.
I’d spotted one of their campaigns and got hold of an (excellent) template to use to create our own pregnancy loss policy. By chance, I was around twelve weeks pregnant at the time. I didn’t know it yet, but I was about to experience a miscarriage.
Everyone’s experience of pregnancy loss is different. I can only talk about my own. I feel strongly that we should talk more about this stuff – periods, pregnancy, pregnancy loss, menopause. It’s major stuff that affects so many of us and yet there is often an expectation that we shouldn’t mention it at work. Even though it often happens while we’re at work.
At the same time, I’m very aware that talking about miscarriage is not exactly easy small-talk. It’s not a fun topic. But it is an important topic.
So, I’m sharing here a few things I hadn’t realised before I’d had a miscarriage. Along with Jack & Grace’s (tried and tested – I’m allowed to make distasteful jokes about my own experiences, right?) pregnancy loss policy. Feel free to copy and paste the policy if you want to.
It’s a really physical experience
I’ve had a womb for almost 40 years and yet I hadn’t realised how physical an experience miscarriage would be. It’s mad to me that we don’t learn about this. But anyway, now I know. For me, it was a full-on physical experience – tiring with intense contraction-like feelings and a lot of blood. Going through it and recovering seemed to take ages.
I went a bit odd, but I didn’t realise it
I genuinely thought I was absolutely fine – except for the gruelling physical symptoms. Dear reader, I was not fine. I was doing some really odd stuff but I just didn’t know it. I’m eternally grateful for my family and colleagues for being so patient and gentle.
Telling people is weird
I was determined to be honest about what had happened. But it’s still a weird thing to share. I’m so glad I did though – people were amazing and the more I talked about it, the more people shared their own stories with me. I hadn’t realised how common an experience it is. This was the message I sent to our team when I started a phased return to work…
Hi team, I was off last week because I had a miscarriage. Realise that’s a bit of an overshare but it was quite an experience (!) and I’d rather be able to talk openly about it than have to skirt around it or pretend I’ve had a cold. I’m genuinely ok – physically and mentally. Not brilliant but definitely ok. It’s been quite a gruelling few days and I feel tired. There are also lots of hormones which means I don’t feel particularly strong and stable! It’s been so nice having colleagues who are supportive without question, which has meant I was able to take the time I needed. Thank you everyone. On that note – I’m going to take this week easy. I’ll see how I go. xx
I needed more help than I’d expected
I had to draw on family and friends a lot. I needed so much help. I had to surrender to it and accept help to get through it. There was no limping through.
That’s why paid time-off for partners and other family members is part of our pregnancy loss policy (and I’d so encourage you to put it in yours). It really does take a village.
Here’s a summary of the pregnancy loss support we offer…
- Freedom to talk about pregnancy and pregnancy loss at work, if you want to.
- Up to thirteen days off with full pay if you experience pregnancy loss.
- Up to six days off with full pay if your partner has a miscarriage or other pregnancy loss.
- Up to three paid days off if you need time off to care for a loved one who has had a miscarriage (perhaps you’re a parent, sibling, grandparent or close friend).
- Communication about the news in a way that you’re comfortable with.
- Flexibility on your return.
As with all our policies, it’s a work in progress. If you’ve got any feedback, pls do email us: firstname.lastname@example.org