We know that knowing what and what not to say to women about pregnancy can sometimes feel like a minefield, but we think it is important people understand that supposedly innocent questions can have painful consequences for some people.
For the 1 in 4 couples whose pregnancy ends in baby loss, questions about family plans and potential pregnancies can remind them of the heartbreak and disappointment they have suffered and cause further pain.
Blogger MummyFox’s little boy Alfie was just 5 months old when the questions about when she would start trying for another baby started. As Alfie gets older his mum Amy also gets comments like,
“Doesn’t Alfie want a little play mate?”
Sadly, Amy has experienced first-hand the heartbreak of baby loss and knows how hard being faced by these questions can be,
“Maybe the couple you asked have just been through such heartbreak and they wish they were pregnant. I know that I don’t think I’d be able to ask that question again. That may seem extreme but it can hurt. It can hurt a lot. We know.”
The period of time after losing a baby can be whirl of different emotions – grief, anger and even guilt – and whilst parents are struggling to cope with all these feelings a poorly timed or ill-considered question can be a painful reminder of what they have lost.
They can also put bereaved parents in awkward situation where they are pushed into talking about something they don’t want to,
“We don’t want to tell the world what we’ve been through but we also don’t want to not tell anyone and pretend that we are okay. Sometimes we’re not okay. Sometimes the smallest thing can upset us. That question is hard. It can hurt.”
So while the question “When are you having another baby?” may be innocently asked, there are many reasons why it is not alright to ask women this question. As Amy writes,
“You don’t always know what’s going on behind closed doors.”
If someone has confided in you about losing their baby there are things you can say and do to help.
Many couples feel isolated after losing a baby so acknowledging their loss instead of avoiding this painful topic of conversation could really help.
The most important thing you to do is listen. Parents who have lost a baby may want to talk about them or they may not. Being there and hearing what they have to say lets them know that you’re there and you care.
If you have lost a baby, we hope that for every upsetting comment or reaction, you have plenty of love and support around you to help through this difficult time. If you're feeling lost, alone or just in need of a chat, call our midwives on 0800 0147 800 who are trained in bereavement counselling.
Have you been hurt by someone’s reaction or question? Read how other women coped with people’s reactions.
Are you struggling to know what to say to support a loved one after they’ve experienced a loss? Read our advice for supporting someone who has had miscarriage.
Read Amy’s original MummyFox blog post here