Reproductive Health

[OPINION] What not to say when someone has a miscarriage

Noni Co

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[OPINION] What not to say when someone has a miscarriage
Instead of saying, 'You lack faith. Pray harder,' try to ask yourself why you need to say this in the first place

As a mama who has gone through four miscarriages, I have heard many cringe-worthy platitudes, so much so that I’d even stopped updating people about my situation after the second miscarriage. Oftentimes sincere but sometimes feigned, these statements stick in my consciousness, like an unwanted guest still lounging on my sofa long after the party is done. At best, they are worthy of a fake smile; at worst, they are horrible enough to make me unfollow the person on Facebook and mute all their Instagram posts thereafter.

Here is a list of things that I have been told during those TTC (trying to conceive) years, and their better alternatives.

Instead of saying, “It’s very common; it happened to her and her,” try saying nothing – absolutely nothing at all.

Though statistically true, these words burn. It’s short of saying, “Shrug it off and get over it, because someone I know did just that.” A grieving mama would never want to hear these words. Some moms cope better than others, but some are unable to recover physically and mentally. It is foolish to assume that everyone can quickly pick themselves up and dust themselves off. Just listen and lend a shoulder to cry on if you are feeling generous. 

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Instead of saying, “It’s because you are stressed and you lack nutrition and exercise,” try to realize that these are not the only factors that affect pregnancy.

It’s better to ask her what her ob-gyn said instead of blaming her routine and diet based on assumptions. I was effectively devastated by this comment, mainly because there is no real cure to stress and I felt like I’d let my baby down by not eating what is deemed to be the right food and not exercising enough. An already self-blaming mama does not need extra clutter in her devastated state. Pregnancy is a long and arduous process, especially if you are beset with infertility and immune system disorders.

Instead of saying, “You lack faith. Pray harder,” try to ask yourself why you need to say this in the first place.

How will this statement help the recipient with her loss? I am a firm believer that hardships don’t necessarily make us stronger, though they do remind us of how strong we already are and drives us to realize our dreams. Nobody can judge the depths of our faith based on the trials and tribulations that God has sent our way. To cite a line from the 1993 movie Philadelphia, starring Tom Hanks, “I’ve got to send a pilot into enemy territory, and he’s gonna be flying a plane that cost $350 million. Who am I going to put into that plane? A rookie who can’t cut the grade, because I want to see if he’ll rise to the challenge? Or am I going to give that assignment to my best pilot, my most experienced, my sharpest, my top gun, the very best I’ve got?”

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To all the mamas dreaming of their rainbow babies, never give up! Don’t raise the white flag just yet, because this is the best time to be alive in terms of available interventions and treatments. These treatments were not available 50 years ago, and I bleed for the mama who never got the chance to hold her rainbow baby, and had to endure similar insensitive remarks through her years of infertility.

Remember, you can change someone’s world just by changing your words. –

Noni Co is school president of Britesparks International School and the entrepreneur behind Cotton Canvas PH. She is the mother of two beautiful girls and vlogs in her spare time. 

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