Overwhelming shock, grief and sorrow — that’s what 39-year-old Annabel Bower felt when her baby Miles was born still in 2018.
- The Duchess of Sussex recently revealed she had a miscarriage
- Her decision to open up about the sometimes taboo topic has been praised by Australian mums
- A national support group has had to adapt to online services due to COVID-19
“It was just such a shock,” she said.
“You are overjoyed that your family is going to be getting bigger and you’re going to welcome another baby. You just never think it’s going to go wrong.
“So when it does and when it happens to you it’s just an overwhelming experience of disbelief, grief, sorrow, and it is vital to have people to reach out to during that time.”
The mother of four is not alone — as many as one-in-four pregnancies in Australia ends in miscarriage, and yet it often remains a taboo subject.
“It’s been such a private pain even though it is something that happens to a lot of families,” she said.
“Often families haven’t revealed they’re having another baby, and then they lose that baby, so it’s very hard to announce loss and life in the same sentence.”
A high-profile voice has joined the conversation, with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, revealing she had a miscarriage in July, in an opinion article published in the New York Times.
The Duchess said she was sharing her story to help break the silence around an all-too-common tragedy.
“I think it helps open up the conversation to a broader audience, and it gives people confidence to tell their story,” Mrs Bower said.
Adelaide mother Lyndal Redman had two miscarriages before having her son Lincoln.
She agreed the Duchess’s story would help bring the issue into the public eye.
“There’s still a silence and there’s so much grief that goes with miscarriage,” Ms Redman said.
“Having someone speak out about it always helps other people know that they’re not alone in going through this.
“The more we talk about it the better it’s going to be, and the more people will find it acceptable to say ‘I’ve had a miscarriage as well’.”
COVID-19 isolating women in need of miscarriage support
In her article, the Duchess wrote that during the COVID-19 pandemic the “social isolation required to fight this pandemic has left us feeling more alone than ever”.
Restrictions have meant some pregnant women have had to go to hospital for appointments and scans alone.
“That’s when a lot of women find out about their miscarriage,” Ms Redman said.
“You go into your scan and have your doctor tell you, ‘Sorry, there’s no heartbeat’. To have COVID basically take away having that support network during the scan or even at home would make it so much harder,” she said.
Mrs Bower said support was essential.
Mrs Bower is the state coordinator in South Australia for SANDS, a national support service for miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death.
She said organisations have had to change how they deliver their services.
“SANDS traditionally ran peer support groups parent to parent … and all of that has gone online this year,” she said.
“There are lots of peer support programs online and community groups that you can join on Facebook, so it has had its challenges but there’s also been some positive impacts,” she said.
Ms Redman said it was vital to address the long-term psychological impacts of miscarriage.
“The physical you can get over it a lot quicker, but the mental anguish that goes with a miscarriage lasts for a long time,” she said.
“The moment you find out you’re pregnant, the moment you pick up that stick and you’ve got a positive pregnancy test you are thinking in the future and that baby is part of that future, and to have that ripped away. It doesn’t matter how far along you are, it’s still your child.”