Breaking the Silence Around Miscarriage
When it comes to mental health in Ireland, we’ve come on leaps and bounds in certain areas, but we still have a long way to go in others, in particular in breaking the silence around miscarriage and post-natal depression.
One woman blazing a trail in this area is Irene Lowry. Ten years ago, she set up the non-profit Nurture Health. The service provides immediate and affordable counselling to women and their partners in areas surrounding conception, pregnancy, childbirth and other related difficulties. In those ten years, Nurture Health has helped thousands of women dealing with miscarriage, an area often shrouded in silence in Ireland. We spoke to Irene to find out more.
A Feeling of Isolation
Part of the reason there is a stigma around miscarriage is that women often blame themselves. But it’s really important to remember that miscarriages are unpreventable, despite the best care been taken throughout the pregnancy. “You can take care of yourself really well during pregnancy and still miscarry,” Irene explains. “Having a miscarriage does not mean there is anything medically wrong with you or your partner, or that you did something wrong. Nor does it mean that you cannot have a baby in the future.”
While many women feel like they’re on their own following a miscarriage, it’s actually more common than you might think. “In Ireland, 1 in 5 women will experience a miscarriage, which comes to about 15,000 women annually,” Irene explains. “I think every woman feels like they are on their own but when you look at that statistic, they’re not.”
Breaking the Stigma
“In the last ten years, we’ve counselled 8,200 women and probably 50% of those are miscarriage,” Irene notes. “So many women are sobbing when they first speak to us over the phone. They often say ‘I haven’t talked to anybody about this. I’m mortified, I’m ashamed or I’m embarrassed.’” Those feelings are tough emotions to carry on your own. “What we are trying to do is reduce the stigma and to get women to talk to each other. If you turn around to a woman and say, ‘I had a miscarriage’ you will generally get another woman saying ‘I’ve had one too.’”
Although miscarriage is more common than we may think, that doesn’t negate the fact that it is still an incredibly emotional time for a couple. There is no right or wrong to feel after a miscarriage, we all grieve differently and for different lengths of time. “The emotional impact of a miscarriage is absolutely profound for a couple,” Irene explains. “It doesn’t matter the length of time you were pregnant. For example, some women may be trying to have a baby for years and then suddenly fall pregnant and then realise after a short time they’ve miscarried. This can be devastating.” Whatever your situation, the emotional impact can hugely affect you.
Irene stresses the importance of seeking support. “The longer you isolate yourself, the harder it is to recover. Having supports around you, we know, brings you back out of isolation. If you have that support, you can be well in time. If you don’t have support, it takes much, much longer.” While it can be difficult to make that initial call for help, the good news is that sessions of professional counselling can go a long way towards feeling well again. “Generally, 10 weeks of professional counselling will help a woman move forward in her life and process that loss - many women don’t know that,” Irene explains.
About Nurture Health
Nurture Health offers immediate, effective and affordable support to women and their partners who have experienced a miscarriage in the form of support groups and one-to-one professional counselling. They operate a no waiting list policy, “If a woman phones us on a Monday she will be seen by Friday of the same week. We have no waiting lists across the country,” Irene notes. “Our service is affordable. We’ve kept the rate down as low as possible, all our counsellors are accredited to the ICAP and they are all fully trained up in our area.”
Nurture’s service is available to men and women. Nurture Health is also an Irish Life Health partner, and contributions towards their services are covered under selected plans. So remember, you are not alone – get in touch today.