Mes­sage of sup­port for women af­ter mis­car­riage


SYD­NEY mum Anna Kra­tovil car­ries the ashes of her mis­car­ried baby boy in a locket around her neck.

The dev­as­tat­ing loss of her sec­ond child Al­fie, nearly 20 weeks into her preg­nancy, was made even harder when the 38-year-old dis­cov­ered the lack of sup­port for women griev­ing af­ter a mis­car­riage.

“We got some leaflets — that was kind of it re­ally,” Ms Kra­tovil said.

A new sur­vey of 1700 Aus­tralian women who suf­fered early mis­car­riage has re­vealed three-quar­ters felt un­sup­ported and al­most 70 per cent said they were given no help at all.

The re­sults also found 60 per cent would have used a peer sup­port ser­vice if one was avail­able to them.

The sta­tis­tics sur­round­ing mis­car­riage are both stark and heart­break­ing. In Aus­tralia, 282 women mis­carry be­fore 20 weeks ges­ta­tion each day, while one in four preg­nan­cies will end be­fore 12 weeks.

The new sur­vey was con­ducted by the Pink Ele­phants Sup­port Net­work, an or­gan­i­sa­tion cre­ated two years ago to sup­port women dur­ing early preg­nancy loss. The net­work’s co-founder Sam Payne set it up af­ter she suf­fered two mis­car­riages in-be­tween the births of her two chil­dren, Ge­orgie, five, and 19-month-old Johnny.

“Ev­ery­body wanted to say the right thing but said the wrong thing or avoided me be­cause now I had had two,” the 34-year-old said.

Ms Payne’s sec­ond mis­car­riage oc­curred while she was in the shower at 3am — an event that drove her to start the Pink Ele­phants char­ity.

“Google was the only place I could get an­swers from,” she said. “Google is not OK — it’s 2018. Part of my heal­ing was set­ting this up so it was cathar­tic for me to cre­ate some­thing which would mean no one else would feel as shit as I did at three in the morn­ing in the shower on my own.”

The net­work pro­vides free on­line sup­port re­sources for women, their part­ners and fam­ily and friends, while care packs have been pro­vided to more than 30 NSW hos­pi­tals.

Ms Payne has also asked for fund­ing from both the state and fed­eral health de­part­ments to ex­pand their re­sources na­tion­ally and into GP clin­ics. “I think that ev­ery cou­ple that goes through early preg­nancy loss should have ac­cess to the sup­port that we e of­fer,” Ms Payne said.

In June, Pink Ele­phants also lso launched an Aus­tralian-first pro­gram to pro­vide women with a course ourse of six free ses­sions of peer sup­port pport with an­other woman who had ex­per­ix­pe­ri­enced a mis­car­riage.

Royal Hospi­tal for Women so­cial worker and be­reave­ment coun­sel­lor Terry Di­a­mond de­signed and de­liv­ered the train­ing to the Peer Sup­port am­bas­sadors.

Five years af­ter she was in­duced with Al­fie, Ms Kra­tovil (pic­tured right with hus­band Zac and Al­fie) is now help­ing oth­ers to talk through their pain. “I ba­si­cally looked at one of the leaflets and just chose a grief coun­sel­lor and I just called them and said ‘I need to speak to you’,” she said.

Ms Kra­tovil gave birth to twin girls, Is­abel and Zoe, a year af­ter los­ing Al­fie. “The girls helped but a lot of women don’t go through that, they don’t get the next baby,” she said.

Af­ter two con­sec­u­tive mis­car­riages — one at nine weeks and an­other at 12 weeks — Syd­ney mum-of-one Maggi McDon­ald is also help­ing other women through the Pink Ele­phants. Ms McDon­ald, who de­cided to stop try­ing for an­other child, said the dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect of los­ing two ba­bies, four years af­ter the birth of her son Hamish, plunged her “into a deep de­pres­sive episode”.

“I found that the main mes­sage that was be­ing given to me, and it’s by no fault of any­body, was that I needed to keep try­ing be­cause once I have an­other baby I will be OK and, in my in­stance, it was not go­ing to be the fix for me,” she said. “I needed some­one to say to me that what you’re go­ing through is re­ally tough, take your time — it’s OK to not be OK.”

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