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Supporting Miscarriages and IVF as a Leader or Colleague

Supporting Miscarriages and IVF as a Leader or Colleague by Esther Mustamu-Daniels
By Esther Mustamu-Daniels @EstherMDaniels

I had never considered the impact of a miscarriage until I had my first loss four years ago. 

As I began to share my story, I realised that so many of my colleagues had experienced a loss of some kind at some point.

My first three losses were missed miscarriages where I lost the baby before three months.

Each of these losses had a toll on me physically and emotionally.

After the three losses, we used IVF in order to screen the embryos and support their chances for survival. This brought a new set of challenges: injections, hormones and numerous appointments.

I made it to four months. Then suddenly my waters broke and I experienced the worst of my four losses.

I had to deliver and bury my baby boy.

If you are a leader or colleague who knows of a member of their team who has either experienced loss or is going through IVF, here are some points to consider:

  • Talk to your staff and if possible, their partner: establish what they want and need from you. Each situation is different and your understanding and compassion is important and valued. Establish a plan moving forward making sure that each step is clear; appointments will be covered, confidentiality will be agreed and how they will be supported is clear. This removes any apprehension or uncertainty and allows a clear process. If you have a policy etc, share this so that everyone is clear of roles and procedures; this is especially linked to time off.

  • Check in: This is important. Show that you care and that you are considering emotional and physical healing. Do this regularly and also consider when their due date was; this may be a particularly challenging time for them. Returning to school can have a different impact depending on the individual. Feeling valued and appreciated will always be positive.

  • Consider the whole family: All of the family will be managing their grief in different ways.

  • While going through IVF or medical appointments please be mindful of cover. A conscientious staff member will do as much as they can to limit the disruption to their workload but the added stress of managing or negotiating time and meetings can take its toll. Also, do not ask staff to arrange their own cover; this may raise guilt, privacy and emotional issues that do not need to be discussed with other colleagues.

  • Inform yourself and your leaders about the needs around miscarriage and loss. It is a challenging subject. Often, people are worried to talk about it for fear of causing offence but ignoring it is also not great. There are some helpful resources available here.

  • If possible, offer support in the means of counseling. They may not want to receive this but suggesting it and even possibly funding it could be vital in their recovery process. Looking after your staff in the short term will reap long term benefits for all.

  • Value your staff by not making assumptions about their work load. Your instinct might be to protect them but work can be space to switch off and can be a welcomed break for some. Talk to them about what they can do and support them accordingly.

  • This is a big one - If there are other members of staff who are pregnant or expecting, give some forward notice or even excuse them from a meeting where news such as this may be announced. Miscarriage and loss is an extremely traumatic experience and hearing about this at the start of the day or in a meeting can be very unnerving and upsetting.

Essentially, keeping the lines of communication open and showing that you care is the most helpful way to support your staff if they experience pregnancy loss. 

It may be an extremely difficult time and your support and understanding will mean more than your apathy. 

Even if you get it wrong, showing that you care will be appreciated.

In honour of my son: Leo Jacob Kwamena Daniels (LJ) 16.3.2021

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Comments 1

Guest - Krishna on Saturday, 12 March 2022 17:11

Thank you for sharing. Have spent a lot of time thinking about what to say, whether to say & how it might be received. Always tricky but your points are useful.
I'm sorry for your loss . Wish you peace & strength.

Thank you for sharing. Have spent a lot of time thinking about what to say, whether to say & how it might be received. Always tricky but your points are useful. I'm sorry for your loss . Wish you peace & strength.
Thursday, 07 July 2022

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