MISCARRIAGE MUMS SPEAK OUT ABOUT THEIR SILENT PAIN: SPECIAL REPORT,
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.”