How to Advocate For Yourself After Miscarriage

Facing a miscarriage can be emotionally and physically draining. Here's how to advocate your needs and prioritize your healing.
woman talking to her doctor

Experiencing a miscarriage can bring about a range of feelings, including sadness, anger, and guilt. It’s also common for women to feel disconnected from their partners and loved ones. To complicate things further, the people in your life who are supposed to support and care for you may not have the level of empathy and understanding that you need during this difficult and challenging time. You may find yourself needing to advocate for your own needs in the different areas of your life.

When a person dies, there are rituals in place to draw family and friends closer together. This helps aid in the grieving process and fosters a sense of connection. After a miscarriage, however, many women are left feeling completely alone. They may not have shared the news of their pregnancy with others yet. If this is the case, they now have to grapple with whether to share their loss or keep it private. Family and friends who did know about the pregnancy may respond in a variety of different ways, some unsupportive. Many parents report that family and friends seem uncomfortable talking about pregnancy loss and pretend like it never happened, leaving the grieving parents feeling completely alone. 

Following a miscarriage, you may need to advocate for yourself in many different areas of your life. Whether it’s with loved ones, healthcare providers, or at work, you may be faced with situations that make you uncomfortable. You have a right to express yourself and advocate for your needs. Keep reading to learn how to advocate in the different areas of your life.

Talking to your partner about miscarriage 

Experiencing a miscarriage can bring a couple closer together or it could cause one or both partners to feel more distant from one another. Some women may feel hurt by their partner’s reactions to the loss and their efforts, or lack thereof, to show support. 

Couples often cope with miscarriage differently. Studies have found that women tend to express their emotions and seek support from others following a pregnancy loss, while men are more likely to grieve on their own. When couples have different approaches to grieving, it’s possible to misinterpret a partner’s behavior and take it the wrong way. 

A common experience reported by male partners is that they avoid talking about the loss because they believe it will make their female partners feel worse. They believe they are being most helpful by trying to move forward. However, this can feel dismissive for a woman who is craving emotional connection. If this sounds like your relationship, you can benefit from having an open dialogue about what you need from your partner during this time.

When you’re having a hard conversation that involves giving your partner feedback, it’s natural for them to get defensive. One way to mitigate this is to explain that you understand they mean well and do not want to hurt you. Then explain what would be helpful. For example, you could say “I know that you don’t want to cause me more pain by talking about our miscarriage, but even though I get emotional when we talk, it does help me feel better. I’d like for us to talk about it and spend more time together.”

Talking to your family and friends about miscarriage 

Supportive family and friends can play a critical role in helping you cope with a miscarriage. However many women experience a lack of support from their social network. This could be because family and friends fail to acknowledge the loss or the pain of it. They may even make insensitive comments such as:

  • “It must have been meant to be”
  • “At least it happened early”
  • “At least you have one child already”
  • “You can always try again”

If you are faced with insensitive comments about your loss, you can handle it in whatever way feels right to you. Some women choose to ignore these comments, while others express how these comments make them feel directly to the person. You could say “I know you don’t mean harm by saying that, but that is actually quite hurtful.” 

It’s okay to take whatever approach feels right to you. It doesn’t make you passive to ignore these comments. You may not have the emotional energy to assert yourself right now. It also doesn’t make you a bad person to speak up. Your feelings matter and when someone is causing you pain, you have the right to take action in whatever way you feel most comfortable.

Women tend to feel most supported by other women who have also experienced a miscarriage. If you don’t have someone to turn to or you need more support, consider joining a support group offered by Postpartum Support International or SHARE

Talking to your healthcare provider about miscarriage 

The job of healthcare providers is to support you, but some providers lack sensitivity to the needs of their patients. If your provider is not supportive, it can make grieving a miscarriage even more challenging. 

It can be particularly hurtful if a provider that is involved in your miscarriage care lacks empathy and sensitivity. Some women have reported that their doctors didn’t acknowledge their loss during their follow-up appointments or confused them with other patients. If this happens to you, you may feel more like a ‘number’ than a patient.

When it comes to advocating for yourself with your healthcare provider, you should state what you need or what would be most helpful to you. For example, many women do not feel comfortable sitting in a waiting room with pregnant women following a miscarriage. In this instance, you could request to wait in your car and have the receptionist call you when it’s time for your appointment. 

It may feel strange to advocate for yourself with your doctors. The power dynamic inherent in a doctor/patient relationship can make it feel uncomfortable to speak up. But the truth is that you deserve to be heard in all of your relationships, including with your provider. If you are having trouble, you can practice what you would say with a family member or friend, or by yourself in the mirror.

At the end of the day, it is up to you what providers you choose to work with. If you don’t feel comfortable with a particular healthcare provider, you have a right to seek treatment elsewhere. 

Talking to your work about miscarriage 

After a miscarriage, you may wonder how much you should reveal to your employer. The answer depends on your level of comfort and needs. Some companies offer bereavement leave for parents who have experienced a pregnancy loss. If you are taking this time, you will have to let your human resources department know that you experienced a loss and provide documentation, but what you share beyond that is up to you.

The decision of how much to share with your employer will likely depend on your workplace culture, your relationship with your bosses and colleagues, and your level of comfort. It can help to be specific about how you would like this information handled. You may want to tell one person, like your supervisor, and advise them whether you are comfortable having other colleagues know about your loss or if you want this information kept private. If you would like them to share it with coworkers, you can also let them know whether you’d like coworkers to approach you with condolences or if that doesn’t feel right to you.

People often struggle with how to talk about loss, especially in the workplace, so the more specific you can be, the better. And again, if you don’t feel comfortable sharing personal information about your loss, then it is your right too.

Final note

Experiencing a miscarriage is an incredibly difficult experience and being faced with situations where your feelings or needs are disregarded makes it even more challenging. When these situations come up, you have a right to advocate for yourself. You can choose to ignore certain comments or behaviors, speak up, or seek support elsewhere. Remember, your feelings matter. 

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