Leading and Managing your Nursery - Supporting staff and parents experiencing miscarriage
Ways in which you can help parent’s going through baby loss.
Seeking professional help after a miscarriage can sometimes feel overwhelming and some people tend to turn to individuals that they see regularly, whether that be family, friends or someone else. That someone else may be you, their child’s teacher, nursery manager or childminder. In this blog, we will look at some of the ways that early years professionals can support staff and parents who may be going through baby loss.
When someone comes to you having suffered a loss it can be difficult to know what to say and how to offer support. It is okay not to know what to say and to admit this, sometimes just being there for them to talk to can be just as beneficial. Assumptions should be avoided when talking to those that have experienced loss. Their thoughts and feelings will be intensely personal and are not necessarily determined by the gestation or stage at which the loss took place. This can make some people unsure of how to talk about these losses, or even whether they should.
Parents may experience a wide range of emotions during and following any type of baby loss, including grief, guilt, confusion, shock, regret, anger, relief or blame. Not everyone will experience all of these emotions and the intensity of these feelings can vary immensely between different people depending on their resilience. While the emotional response to pregnancy loss can have long-term consequences, people who experience early pregnancy loss often do not receive appropriate aftercare.
What you can do
As an early years professional, you will understand how empathy can help. It is important to be empathetic whilst talking to a bereaved parent. Active listening, eye contact, posture and reflection are good skills to use. Reassure them that what they are feeling is normal and encourage them to express those feelings. This could be in the form of journaling, writing letters, painting or drawing. By working through their feelings the normal process of grief can occur.
Understand that grief is an individual process and has no time frame but if they are still struggling with day to day life after a period of 6 months or so they may be suffering from complicated grief and may need to see their GP.
Mirror the parent’s language. If parents named their baby, use the baby’s name when talking to them or if they use words such as baby you should also use these terms.
Try not to use any language that may be perceived to be critical or judgmental.
What to look out for
It is important to understand that for some people baby loss can cause, or exacerbate mental health problems. They may react in ways that are out of character. If you have any concerns regarding the safety of other children in the household please follow your settings safeguarding policy.
Grief can cause physical reactions such as sleep disturbances, becoming withdrawn, loss or increase in appetite, absent mindedness, heart palpitations, headaches, nauseous and avoidance of certain people (pregnant women and new babies) or situations.
What not to do or say
Try not to offer platitudes such as “I’m sure they’ll find the answer”, “Everything happens for a reason”, “At least you have other children”. Never tell the grieving person what he or she should do or how they should feel. Do not try to find something positive in the bereavement experience.
You can help by signposting them to an organisation such as Morgan’s Wings for further support and they may need some help them in deciding what they want to say.
It may be difficult for you to support someone who has been through baby loss, so make sure you seek support for yourself if you need to.
Check out our latest podcast with Jude from Morgans wings.
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Guest Blog, contributed by Jude, Morgan Wing's.