October marks Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month - a time to grieve the babies who we lost and to raise awareness to let the one in four women know that they are not alone in their pain.
There is no greater news to hear than a positive pregnancy test, a new life is so exciting for the expectant parents along with family and friends. People generally wait until the 12-week marker before they make the announcement, by this stage they are confident that the pregnancy will go to term and the planning can begin.
I spend most of my working day speaking to women who suffer with infertility, and for me this positive result is one of the greatest rewards of the job. Many of these infertility patients have grieved the loss of more than one pregnancy through their long infertility journey and I have cried with them when they lost this much-anticipated baby.
Sadly, for a lot of women recurrent pregnancy loss is not investigated and these women put themselves through this pain time and time again. Thankfully with advances in reproductive technology, a simple blood test can pinpoint women who would benefit from reproductive immunology.
Losing a baby further along in pregnancy is a cruel blow when the announcement has been made, the scan pictures have been posted on social media and you are surrounded by gifts from the baby shower.
Another aspect of infant loss is when you are forced to have a termination. I was really angry to hear the phone in on Jeremy Vine's Radio 2 programme last Friday, about the protestors streaming Facebook live videos of women entering the Marie Stopes abortion clinic in London. Whatever the reason for the termination, every women has the right to make that choice and should not have to put up with that kind of harassment from complete strangers who don't know the circumstances, nor it any of their business to intrude at such a difficult time.
One of my best friends recently discovered her unborn child had Edwards Syndrome, she had to make the difficult decision to terminate her pregnancy. The actual termination couldn't be arranged for weeks and when her and her partner did finally get an appointment it was on a Sunday and the staff made it very clear how inconvenient it was for them to be there! My friend is still really struggling to come to terms with their loss as she continues to count down the days until her due date, which was Christmas. My heart breaks for them and all you can do is be there for them and cry with them as we talk about their feelings.
My Facebook newsfeed has been filled with lit candles and children's names as those grieving mothers in my friend circle light candles, and remember the babies that they lost. Having a month to remember these children is a really good thing; it starts the conversation on a very personal and difficult topic. It's OK to cry, it's OK to mourn and most importantly it's OK to talk about it.
I wanted to write this blog for all my friends who have lost their babies whether in pregnancy or at a very young age, you know who you are and I hope you know that I am here for you.
Losing a child has to be one of the most traumatic and emotionally devastating experiences that you can go through, but these four steps might just help women cope after such terrible heartache.
L.et friends, family and medical professionals help
O.pen up about your feelings
S.peak out and raise awareness
S.eek help through counselling or treatment for recurrent miscarriage.