Trigger Warning: Miscarriage
The model bravely took to Instagram to announce the unimaginable loss after suffering pregnancy complications, which landed her in hospital earlier this week. Teigen explained that she, and her husband, are “shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about” on what she described as the “darkest of days”. After demonstrating extraordinary strength by sharing her grief with the world, Teigen’s post quickly encouraged multiple women to share their own experiences with miscarriage.
Whilst Teigen acknowledged her extreme gratitude for the life her family lives, including the couple’s beautiful young children Luna and Miles, it is a tragedy that will likely affect her for some time. Teigen has been an inspiring voice for discussing challenges and issues surrounding fertility for many years. She joins a list of celebrities, such as Michelle Obama and Beyonce, who have been breaking down the barriers, of the somewhat social taboo subject, by speaking out about their own fertility issues and pregnancy loss.
Previously, former First-Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama openly discussed the matter in her 2018 memoir, Becoming. “What nobody tells you is that miscarriage happens all the time, to more women than you’d ever guess, given the relative silence around it,” Obama wrote. Sadly, it is a loss that is common among many women, with around 10-20% of known pregnancies ending in miscarriage. However, it is usually an experience that is grieved independently, with little discussion on the topic. Each woman’s experience of losing a baby is varied, yet it is often the case that stigma, shame, and guilt emerge as common themes.
It is important we begin to invoke the difficult conversations surrounding miscarriage, more openly and show continuous and benevolent support to women experiencing this loss; whilst providing the help they may need in receiving further support from professionals. We spoke to Dr. Tara Wyne, clinical psychologist, and director of Dubai medical center, The Lighthouse to further promote a discussion on the sensitive subject.
How important do you think it is that we talk about miscarriages more?
It’s critical that we speak more about miscarriage. All too often women and families are experiencing this in isolation. There is often a sense of defectiveness and shame that surrounds miscarriage. It isn’t spoken about because our mindset on this can be focused on fault and blame, women experience a sense of abject failure and take on personal responsibility for why they lost their baby. Bringing issues like miscarriage to light with transparency and vulnerability decreases the shame and cultivates more compassion for this experience. Women hearing stories will realize it’s nobodies fault and that typically it’s an immune system or chromosomal abnormality that led to the miscarriage and not their behavior. This could encourage more women to seek support and help in this acutely painful time.
Are there any important things someone can take away from such a painful experience?
Women can learn to be more compassionate with themselves. They can identify this as a loss and allow themselves to grieve. We can learn that miscarriages happen to women but affect the whole family or system around that person. If a woman is in emotional pain, she needs support and an atmosphere of openness where she can share her feelings without judgment or being shut down because it’s too uncomfortable for others. It’s also fundamental that we recognize we might fear another pregnancy but we have to truly work on recovery and healing to be open and mindfully present to the next pregnancy.
What is your advice for families going through a similar situation?
When trying to support a woman through miscarriage we should not judge her reaction or response. It’s critical we listen, understand her needs, and show enormous kindness and compassion. Someone may want to talk and cry and share, another may be more silent, thoughtful, and keep busy. We have to be aware that a loss can be experienced as a real trauma and as such re-experienced, we should encourage processing, journaling, sharing which may help to integrate this very painful experience. When you dignify then pain inside regarding a loss, the pain changes over time. It’s important not to get frustrated and remind someone of how long they have grieved. We are often guilty of trying to rush someone through their reaction because we want them to feel better.
Who should a woman suffering a miscarriage speak to, and how would she find the right person?
Often women turn to a friend or confidante to share their loss with. I suggest if it’s someone in your life, be sure they are trustworthy, non-judgemental, not quick to fix or shame. There are online and in-person support groups such as the Little Lifetimes support group at The Lighthouse Arabia which supports women through pregnancy and infant loss. These groups can allow women to grieve, openly discuss their pain and loss, and feel others’ shared experience. Women can offer real comfort and also demonstrate through their lived experience how to cope and build resilience after such losses. Women can also seek individual psychological therapy to allow them to process, make meaning, and learn how to move forward with their life whilst integrating their loss.