Silence broken on taboo topic for would-be mums

 

Women are returning to their desks the same day they miscarry, bleeding and in pain, with Fair Work Australia having no special paid leave in place for pregnancy losses before 12 weeks.

But a battle to bring in mandatory two days' paid bereavement leave for anyone who miscarries in the first three months is gaining momentum.

The Pink Elephants support network is lobbying for the policy change and has exclusively released its research to The Sunday Mail, which it will present to Attorney-General Christian Porter in the hope it will be tabled in Parliament.

The law can be changed by an amendment to the Fair Work Act.

The research by the University of Sydney, gathered from the support network's forums, found 94 per cent of people would make use of the paid leave if needed, with women saying the leave would be a much needed acknowledgment of a serious loss.

Half of women said their partners would also appreciate the time to grieve.

A miscarriage occurs in one in four pregnancies.

"Currently women are taking sick leave when they miscarry and many, particularly those who have gone through fertility treatments, have used up their leave for these appointments," Pink Elephants chief executive Samantha Payne said.

"Each year 100,000 couples are losing their babies in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. That's a rate of 98 per cent.

"We hear awful stories of women having to go to work on the same day that they lose their baby.

"Miscarriage is still shrouded in silence and there is a taboo about talking about it or validating the emotional loss."

 

Louise Griffiths at home with four-month-old son Liam. Picture: Lachie Millard
Louise Griffiths at home with four-month-old son Liam. Picture: Lachie Millard

 

Some companies are starting to offer the paid leave for early pregnancy loss, including Virtus Health's Queensland Fertility Group, Minter Ellison and Tabcorp.

Queensland Fertility Group fertility specialist Associate Professor Anusch Yazdani said: "We are seeing a shift in attitude to miscarriages.

"In our fertility work we see the very real pain of very early pregnancy loss.

"There is even a sense of bereavement from a negative pregnancy test.

"Today we offer parents genetic testing after they suffer their first miscarriage rather than wait for No.3 or 4…

"Early testing can bring closure from understanding the cause of miscarriage and give parents confidence to enjoy the next pregnancy with less fear."

Sunshine Coast mother Louise Griffiths, 29, is enjoying every moment with 16-week-old Liam after having a successful pregnancy on her 13th fertility treatment.

"I was pregnant once before but I lost the baby at six weeks. I was devastated," she said.

"No one can tell me that I lost a bunch of cells, it was my baby.

"I dreamt about the baby's birth and our future together.

"My work has looked after me very well, but I think that paid bereavement leave is a must for couples to grieve together."

Visit Pink Elephants


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