How to navigate discussing and recovering from your miscarriage in the workplace.
Pregnancy is already a very personal experience, and miscarriage can be an even more private and lonely experience that makes a person turn inward as they process the sudden and tragic loss of a pregnancy.
No matter your circumstance, recovering from a miscarriage while navigating how to address it at work can be a scary and uncomfortable process.
The most important thing to remember is there is no wrong or right way to do it.
How you grieve and choose to address it is what is best for you; however, there are tips and resources to help guide you through this difficult time while managing your work relationships and responsibilities.
Determining if you should disclose your miscarriage at work
Depending on your work relationships, circumstances and work culture, you may choose to reach out to your colleagues as a source of support—but it’s completely up to you and your comfort level.
If your pregnancy wasn’t disclosed in the first place: you may not feel the need to disclose your miscarriage. However, you may find support in coworkers that privately went through the same experience or perhaps someone who has lost someone close to them. Discussing your loss with trusted co-workers might help them and other colleagues understand your current circumstance without having to know all the details.
If you have disclosed your pregnancy at work: it can feel like a very awkward conversation and be painful to relive your situation by repeatedly explaining it to coworkers. Some women choose to have a close colleague relay the information on their behalf or have someone close to talk to before and after these difficult conversations.
Set your boundaries
With something as personal and painful as a pregnancy loss, it’s important you set your boundaries to help you recover in the healthiest way for you. This includes determining the limits to which you want to discuss your miscarriage. It’s up to you on how far you want to discuss it. It can be a simple and succinct explanation, like, "I’m going through a pregnancy loss and don’t feel comfortable discussing it at this time."
For some people, discussing in detail can serve as a way to process on the path to recovering.
With trusted coworkers and a work environment that fosters compassion along with open and authentic communication, you may feel comfortable sharing your situation with colleagues. Note that everyone has different levels of comfort in discussing difficult conversations, so keep that in mind as you decide how and who to share your story with.
Examples of addressing your miscarriage at work
"I recently experienced a miscarriage and am currently grieving this loss. As I process this difficult situation, I might need time and space to work through my emotions. At this time, I am not comfortable sharing this information with my colleagues. If you could share this news on my behalf, I would greatly appreciate it."
"Unfortunately, I recently experienced a pregnancy loss. It’s imperative to lean on each other, as I and my loved ones navigate this heartbreak. I am always open and sincerely appreciative of any of your kind thoughts and words during this difficult time."
"I want to thank you all for your support of my pregnancy thus far. Sadly, I lost the pregnancy and am understandably upset. If I seem a little “off” or not “myself” recently, I hope you’ll understand and respect my privacy at this time."’
Set your expectations
In some cases, people may not know how to offer the right support or the right thing to say. Though intentions might be heartfelt and genuine, their response may not be what you were expecting to hear. Be prepared that it might not lift your spirits—or be what you expected as a response.
Oftentimes, people might be caught off guard with troubling news. In this case, preparing yourself for these conversations can be a helpful way to soften the blow of a not-so-comforting response. If applicable, consider seeking out a resource of support at work that can be a listening ear, shoulder to cry on or just somebody to help unpack a tough conversation.
Take the time you need
FMLA and Extended Leave
A pregnancy loss does not only entail the grieving of a loss—it can be mentally exhausting and draining, too. Not to mention, you might need some time to physically recover as some miscarriages require surgery for treatment. After deciding if an extended amount of time is right for you, talk to your manager or HR about your FMLA eligibility. Miscarriage does fall under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and if eligible, employees can take up to 12 weeks per year of unpaid leave to care for their own serious health conditions.
Additionally, local laws and company policies may have their own protocols when it comes to paid sick leave, temporary disability insurance, or bereavement leave. The Department of Labor offers a breakdown of miscarriage rights in the workplace and various FMLA accommodations for pregnancy loss.
Support Groups and Resources
It’s most important that you understand you’re not alone. Unfortunately, miscarriage is common, and there are many support groups out there if you want to connect with other women who have had similar experiences.
Whether it’s providing guidance from their own experience or just being an empathetic listener, their understanding of your situation can be comforting and help provide the strength you need to process and move forward. Reach out to your HR Department to help connect you with local groups. There are also national organizations that provide support and local networking support communities, as well.
Whether you just prefer discussing your miscarriage in a confidential environment or are exhibiting signs of depression and withdrawal, seeking therapy can be a helpful and safe route to take. Depression can be a serious and real outcome after a pregnancy loss and a trained therapist could help with understanding, processing and overcoming your grief.
📖 Read more: Maternal Mental Health Resources
Accept support from your inner circle
If your friends, family or even colleagues extend a helping hand to carry out chores, like grocery shopping, walking the dog, doing laundry and cooking dinner—let them do it. You not only need time to physically heal, but the support from loved ones can also help your mental state, as well.
They may not know how to comfort you with words, but can demonstrate their love through action. Any form of love and support during a time of grief can help eliminate the lonely feeling a miscarriage can often cause.
Be kind to yourself
With the conversations around miscarriage awareness becoming less stigmatized, we hope you find comfort in knowing that it’s okay to talk about if you choose to do so. And although discussing it at work is ultimately your choice, there is more help and support out there to walk you through it. You don’t have to go it alone.
You’re enduring a loss. Something so close and precious to you. It’s important that you don’t put the pressure on yourself to recover swiftly. There’s no official time limit to heal from a miscarriage. Take the time to grieve and be kind to yourself in the process.