Canberra woman, Amelia Watson wants to smash stigmas around miscarriage

Amelia Watson hopes that speaking out about her experience with miscarriage will help smash stigmas. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Amelia Watson hopes that speaking out about her experience with miscarriage will help smash stigmas. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Amelia Watson's only experiences with being pregnant have ended in loss.

Her world was left shattered after her first miscarriage on Christmas Eve last year and again more recently in June.

But Ms Watson says miscarriages are shrouded in stigmas and can be treated as not a real loss.

"It's a real loss, the moment you get that positive test you start thinking 'great OK my life is going to change [and] these are the things I need to plan'," she said.

"You and your partner start discussing all these things and weeks later that world shatters and that's really hard.

"There is this idea that you just move on."

Her partner Adam was also left devastated and struggled as he felt his loss was not recognised.

"Early pregnancy loss, while it physically happens to the person carrying the baby, it is also very difficult and a very real loss for the non-birth partner," Ms Watson said.

"[My partner] found it difficult when he was not acknowledged in the loss."

Ms Watson is sharing her experiences in the hope she can smash stigmas about miscarriage.

"I found that the more we talk about it, the more it's going to take off or peel back that stigma," she said.

"There are so many societal expectations around women and pregnancy and when you are pregnant you don't tell people because of that ridiculous 12-week rule so you're alone in that time and you're alone again when you lose the pregnancy.

Amelia Watson has had two miscarriages in the past year. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Amelia Watson has had two miscarriages in the past year. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

"When it comes to pregnancy we are sold a lie, that it is easy. For those of us where it is not easy we are made to feel ashamed.

"For Adam and I, our only experience of pregnancy is that it ends in loss. We don't want to feel ashamed of this, rather we want to acknowledge our two losses and hope that by speaking out about our experiences it can help others and break down that stigma."

And her story is having an impact. Ms Watson said since she had started sharing her story it has spurred others to share theirs. She said people have shared stories about miscarriages that happened more than 20 years ago.

One in four pregnancies will end before 20 weeks and one in three women will experience a miscarriage in their lives. About 280 women experience a miscarriage every day in Australia.

During the coronavirus pandemic miscarriage support services have reported a surge in inquiries as the already isolating experience was exacerbated during lockdown.

Pink Elephants Support Network chief executive Samantha Payne said the charity had a 60 per cent increase in requests during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Women are telling us they're going to scans and being told there's no heartbeat and they don't have a hand to hold or shoulder to cry on," she said.

"They're going into hospital pregnant and waking up after procedures without a baby and no one beside them for support. Then they're coming home to lockdown situations where they can't have a cuppa or a wine with a friend to process their unexpected grief."

October is pregnancy loss awareness month and Ms Payne said the organisation wanted to start a conversation so that people were better placed to understand the impact of miscarriage.

"It's not always easy to speak up but we're never going to smash the stigma that is driven by out-dated opinions and based on a lack of evidence, if we're not brave enough to have these conversations and use our voices to be heard."

This story 'It's a real loss': breaking down the stigmas around miscarriage first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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