Care after pregnancy loss: collegial support, workplace expectations and recovery.
On day four of Baby Loss Awareness Week 2020 the topic is the workplace and return to work.
Care after pregnancy loss is not just about medical procedures and investigations, or support from friends and family. Care also has an important place at work, and employers and colleagues can take steps in making sure they know the up-to-date legislation regarding compassionate, and maternity leave, sign up for training with Sands UK or the Miscarriage Association and provide a supportive environment.
As in many other areas in the UK, entitlements to maternity leave are linked to the length of the pregnancy. That is, before 24 weeks gestation, you can ask for sick leave or compassionate leave. After 24 weeks gestation, you are eligible for maternity leave and paternity leave. Maternity Action has put together a comprehensive overview of employee rights and entitlements after pregnancy loss:
In my last blog post, I shared a study that found people who experienced pregnancy loss had a much higher likelihood of having PTSD, anxiety and depression. Colleagues and employers should be aware that pregnancy loss has effects on your physical and mental wellbeing. Adjusting to your normal work environment can be difficult and jarring, as for the affected person, everything else just changed dramatically. Finding yourself back in the office, listening to lunch chatter may be a reminder of what you have just lost: time with your baby. For some, a work schedule can also be helpful in finding a way to live with grief.
During Covid-19, work from home has been normalised and it may seem like a good option for someone who wants to return to work after a loss. However, we are also seeing that many people experience working from home as more stressful and requiring more work hours than usual. It is important to continue to provide care and support in work-from-home situations: checking in via call or email, encouraging breaks and shorter work weeks and making sure that work does not contribute to an already difficult situation.
When you return to work and how you return to work should be your decision and supported by your partner, family, friends and workplace. #YouAreNotAlone