Women in Employment
Goals and control
Sometimes working and career oriented women used to achieving goals may see a new baby as their next project. Many of us are fiercely independent and have a strong sense of control over our life choices, for example, finances, careers and travel. A miscarriage is often the first situation in which we are unable to achieve our goal, either in the time frame expected, or at all. In addition to grieving the loss of our babies, we also suffer the discomfort of going through a major re-evaluation of the control we thought we had over our lives. These two sources of grief (the baby and the life we thought we were about to have right now) both need our attention in order to resolve them.
“It just didn’t seem like having a baby”.
Back to work
Returning to work can be challenging. The response from some workmates may be upsetting, hurtful, unsupportive or disappointing. Thinking that others do not understand, often makes us put on a brave face. Keeping strong feelings under control is exhausting. Doing this during the working day leads to falling apart in the evenings and weekends, putting extra pressure on partners or family and friends.
Planning your return to work may help to make things easier. Take time to consider your options, think about the intensity of your grief and its unpredictability, your ability to cope with work and that you could need medical attention. You may wish to take sick, maternity or special leave until you are better able to cope physically and emotionally. This may need to be negotiated with your employer. It would be a good idea to decide what level of disclosure you wish to make about your plans to have a child and the implications this has for your future at work.
“Everything at work seemed surreal. I just sat there doing my job and kept to myself as it was hard to relate to anyone or anything around me. My co-workers, who knew, were kind and would come and quietly pat me on the shoulder, sometimes handing me a tissue for the tears I hadn’t noticed that had been running down my face”.
Telling someone at work
A suggestion with regard to day to day working relationships;
Other women have found it can be really helpful to confide in one or two trusted work mates.
Your wishes about ‘how you would like your miscarriage handled by your colleagues and the support you would like to receive from them’ can be discussed and a plan created, your mates making sure that it is carried out for you.
If you use this method, remember you can change your mind and your plan at any time as you begin to adjust to your loss.
We also suggest down-loading ‘what to say and what not to say‘ from off our website under, ‘helping some-one after miscarriage‘ to give to your work mates. People with the best of intentions often get it wrong, not because they don’t care, but because they don’t understand.
“I tried to put up a front that I was okay but I did not feel myself. I was hurting badly. I tried to get back into the swing of life, but it was hard as I really felt that I did not have much to live for. I put on the act, cried alone and waited for the day that I could try again”.
If you are in a management position experiencing a miscarriage, you will need to approach someone in the hierarchy you can trust (in our experience another woman would be the optimum choice in this particular situation although you will be the best judge of that). Find an appropriate way between you to deal with your possible unexpected emotions. Discuss the staff’s reactions if you or someone else were to tell them and the possible repercussions. It is your choice whether you do or not. Every place of employment will be different so what you feel works best for you and your situation is the priority. You can always change your mind and may wish to as your feelings evolve.
In New Zealand ‘The Human Rights Act 1993’ covers the rights of Pregnant Workers. If you need information, call the ‘Human Rights Act Helpdesk’ on 0800 496 877.