Reflecting over the last two years with all that I have to be grateful for, I thought it was important to break the silence of an important issue to women, men, families and workplaces.
Miscarriages are taboo, people don’t talk about them. They are lived in secret.
If you talk about experiencing a miscarriage, people often don’t know how to react. It’s often considered private information that should not be shared. It’s something many women are forced to deal with alone. But this is the exact opposite of what we need.
As We Delay Pregnancy, Miscarriages Become More Common
Miscarriages happen and can happen at any stage of pregnancy. I am here to tell you that you are allowed to have the feelings that you have, no matter how early or late in the pregnancy it occurs. It’s still a dream that comes to an end.
As more women postpone childbearing to focus on their career, miscarriages are rising. They are a fact of life that women and their employers can’t ignore. Did you know that at the age of 35, the risk of miscarriage is around 20%? The chances go up dramatically with age. By the age of 45, the risk rises to 80%.
Time to Heal is Essential
In my experience, I was working full-time when my two successive miscarriages occurred. I had to operate at 100% while I was heartbroken. Because I was fairly late in the process, I had to go to the hospital. I was stressed about what I was going to say to my boss. If I didn’t tell him, he might ask where I was? If I was vague and just said I had to have a minor surgery, he would surely ask me if I was okay.
I was definitely not okay. We have symptoms physically that are making us feel unwell and maybe we have to go to the hospital. I was lucky as I was able to talk to my boss and I was able to share what happened. He was there for me and very understanding.
An amazing thing happened when I was able to share my situation. You can create a lot of empathy. You may be giving people an opportunity where they can open up to share their stories and have their own healing process. Simply sharing the story of the experience can have healing power for you and for someone else. That’s why it’s so important for us to feel like it’s okay to talk about miscarriages, because it is! We need everyone to be, if not comfortable, at least supportive of the situation.
What Can Corporations Do Better?
Wouldn’t it be amazing if companies provided women who had a miscarriage with time off to recover? How much easier could her healing process be if she knew it was okay to share her stories, even if it’s just with an HR person or her boss? Corporate leaders, imagine how your employees will feel.
As a company you can say, “We understand what you’re going through. It must be extremely difficult. Take the time to recover and be with your family, take the time to heal.” That would make a huge difference. If you care for people, then you create tools and give them the space to simply BE. That’s what an emotionally intelligent business does. It’s not about reacting in the same way as what has always been done. It is about challenging what is the norm.
Sometimes giving the time for the person to simply BE and RECOVER is the most powerful thing you can do. A miscarriage, like any other trauma, is a difficult experience for the mind and for the soul. You have to heal, and knowingly or not, companies often don’t give time for healing. HEALING is a word that was never used.
Healing is an Essential Part of the Workplace
Today, healing is a word that is being used more often in mainstream culture and during the pandemic. Healing the nation, healing the people, mental health healing, healing the climate. It’s a word that is beautiful. Why however when it is used in a corporate setting is it not so accepted, or seen in a lesser light. Healing can have a transformational effect on the staff and the greater potential of the entire workplace.
Why should employers care about miscarriages?
Of course you will offer sympathy and feel sadness for an employee who has experienced a miscarriage. But why should you go beyond those feelings into action? It’s a great question many of us should be asking. And I have a great reason:
Supporting an employee through the healing process creates an employee that is PRESENT. If you have an employee that is 100% aligned, they perform 100%. What happens with the other “do nothing” option? You risk having an employee that just shows up but is not performing because they are broken inside. Instead of feeling open and communicative, they focus their energy on covering up their emotions to protect their position.
If you give time for healing, what you receive is a workforce that is grateful and seeks to give back to the company that was there for them. Simply put: the more you give the more you will get back.
By listening, by showing up, by being there and using words that people use, the business itself is acting humanely. In exchange, what you receive is a workforce that is dedicated, that is loyal, that is PASSIONATE. Your support empowers your team to become advocates for the company.
What can employers do to create a supportive work environment?
So what could employers do to be more supportive and reap the benefits of more aligned, more present employees? My thoughts are below, but I am eager to hear yours as well. Let’s begin a dialogue and discussion on this important topic.
- Show women that you are there to help them achieve their dream of having a family. Provide them with a REWARD for putting their career first by covering the cost of freezing their eggs. This is a wonderful gesture of showing the woman that the company understands their wants and needs.
- Be flexible with the working hours during the healing process of a miscarriage. Allow the woman to go through the journey and give her a more flexible schedule that provides time to recover.
- Ensure HR policies do not financially discriminate against women who take medical leave for miscarriages or pregnancy.
More Ways to Help Employees
- Give employees the security that if they talk about a miscarriage the company will not unconsciously prejudice the employee. Many women fear that by revealing this information, it will show their plan to expand their family. When you are career-driven, you worry this information will impact your career and you will be ignored for promotions. Companies need to set policies that actively support women’s promotions regardless of their family aspirations.
- Use an independent consultant to provide objective support. Some discussions are not always the right fit for HR. Using a women-focused consultant, someone employees can talk to about their issues can be much more helpful. A coach can be useful in many circumstances: when someone is considering freezing their eggs, going through infertility or miscarriage, or returning to work after giving birth.
- Provide a list of resources of experts they can work with who offer complementary meditation and education so they can learn how to get through the pain using pain management strategies.
- Use an anonymous request system for people who are hesitant to share their personal lives with colleagues.
- Grant everyone on your staff a personal day of healing their mind, body and soul. We should not forget the partner who is also grieving. There are often two parents who have suffered the loss and it’s important to realize this.
- Articulate confidentiality.
Today, I am both the head of a team and a mother to two wonderful twin babies. I appreciate and I am grateful for the support that my manager and the company has provided to me throughout my miscarriages and indeed the birth. This support has made it possible for me to continue to give my heart and soul to my career.
If you would like more information on healing after miscarriage, please read my blog article on Miscarriage Meditation and Healing.
To watch my Guided Meditation on Miscarriage, visit my YouTube channel or Instagram @gaelledevinscoach on IGTV.