‘I Hope I’mhelp­ing Women’

Ahead of Baby Loss Aware­ness Week, we chat­ted to Dr Jes­sica Zucker, founder of the #Ihadamis­car­riage cam­paigné

Look (UK) - - LOOK LIFE -

Asis­ter, a friend, a mother, an aunt. Most of us have wit­nessed the pain of mis­car­riage – even if we haven’t phys­i­cally ex­pe­ri­enced loss our­selves. But de­spite how com­mon it is (as many as one in four preg­nan­cies end in mis­car­riage), the stigma associated with loss is a grow­ing con­cern. In a 2015 study, 70 per cent of women ad­mit­ted to hav­ing feel­ings of guilt fol­low­ing a mis­car­riage, with 35 per cent re­veal­ing that they were too ashamed to talk to their part­ners.

En­ter Dr Jes­sica Zucker, a Los An­ge­les­based psy­chol­o­gist spe­cial­is­ing in women’s re­pro­duc­tive and ma­ter­nal men­tal health. Af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a mis­car­riage at 16 weeks, Jes­sica launched the cam­paign #Ihadamis­car­riage, to end the stigma associated with

loss. What fol­lowed was not only a pow­er­ful and poignant In­sta­gram page, @Ihadamis­car­riage, but a global com­mu­nity of women. Here, ahead of Baby Loss Aware­ness Week (9-15 Oc­to­ber), Jes­sica shares her story about the pain of loss and the cru­cial im­por­tance of end­ing what she refers to as ‘the three Ss’ – shame, stigma and si­lence: shame, be­cause you can feel as if it’s some­thing you did or it’s your fault; stigma be­cause some­times peo­ple shun you when they don’t know what to say to you; and si­lence, be­cause we can be bad at open­ing up and shar­ing when we’ve been through some­thing ter­ri­ble.

‘Be­cause of the na­ture of my work – and be­cause I was so far along, my pa­tients could eas­ily see I was preg­nant – I felt it was im­por­tant I shared what had hap­pened,’ ex­plains Jes­sica.

‘Con­sider the com­plex­ity of that. I had been sit­ting with these women for years, hear­ing about their re­pro­duc­tive loss, their trauma, their post-par­tum is­sues. All of a sud­den, here I was, in this po­si­tion my­self but also be­ing re­spon­si­ble for help­ing my pa­tients. It was very com­plex and im­pacted my work in a very pro­found and mean­ing­ful way. Sud­denly, I was able to un­der­stand from such a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive.

‘Four months later, I be­came preg­nant with my now three-year-old daugh­ter. I sat there hear­ing these trou­bling and dif­fi­cult sto­ries, all the while be­ing very con­cerned about stay­ing preg­nant my­self.

‘In 2014. I of­fi­cially launched the hash­tag cam­paign #Ihadamis­car­riage with the goal of show­ing women around the world that there’s ab­so­lutely no shame in loss. Psy­chol­o­gists like my­self don’t usu­ally share de­tails of their lives and I re­alised what a unique op­por­tu­nity I had. Shortly af­ter­wards, I launched my In­sta­gram page and quickly re­alised what a pow­er­ful com­mu­nity it was.’

The ac­count cur­rently has over 19.5k fol­low­ers, while #Ihadamis­car­riage has gar­nered nearly 9,000 posts by women shar­ing their ex­pe­ri­ences in an open, hon­est and supportive way.

‘It has been a won­der­ful ve­hi­cle for des­tig­ma­tis­ing some­thing so im­por­tant,’ says Dr Jes­sica. ‘Re­gard­less of race, class, cul­ture, reli­gion – mis­car­riage can im­pact you. We need to be more com­fort­able talk­ing about these re­ally un­com­fort­able top­ics.

‘Women around the world share their sto­ries with me – right now I have hun­dreds of emails I need to go through! They can sub­mit photo op­tions if they want to, or I can send them pho­tos to choose from. The cam­paign has helped me deal with my own loss per­son­ally – I find it so heal­ing and life chang­ing. Women across the globe are get­ting to­gether and sup­port­ing each other around this is­sue, it’s in­cred­i­ble and also much-needed.

‘What more can be done? We need to think about the three Ss – shame, stigma and si­lence. What comes first? Is it the si­lence that cre­ates the shame and the stigma, or the stigma that cre­ates the si­lence and the shame? I’m very keen on shift­ing these. Not ev­ery woman has to share her story pub­licly, it’s about mak­ing it nor­ma­tive.

‘Ev­ery Oc­to­ber, I usu­ally build on my cam­paign. In 2015, I cre­ated a line of preg­nancy and in­fant-loss cards, and in 2016 I cre­ated a range of T-shirts and pins that are all about rain­bow ba­bies (ba­bies that fol­low loss). This year, I’m re­leas­ing a lim­ited-edi­tion il­lus­trated book.

‘I want women to start be­ing gen­tle with them­selves. You did noth­ing wrong. I’m ob­sessed with this – I want women to un­der­stand that blam­ing them­selves is not go­ing to bring the baby back. Grief knows no time­line.’

Ac­knowl­edge It: An Il­lus­trated Recog­ni­tion Of Re­pro­duc­tive Health Out­comes is avail­able through­out Oc­to­ber at dr­jes­si­cazucker.com

Women around the world are shar­ing their sto­ries

Dr Jes­sica helps women talk about their ex­pe­ri­ence of loss

Mis­car­riage can af­fect any­one, re­gard­less of race, class or cul­ture Dr Jes­sica went on to give birth to a daugh­ter Aware­ness-raising T-shirts help break the ta­boo

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.