After your miscarriage, you may want to take some time to physically recover and to care for your wellbeing. This might mean taking leave from your work.
Under the Australian Federal Government Fair Work Act, you are entitled to 2 days of paid bereavement leave if you or your partner have had a pregnancy loss. Some employers offer more than 2 days. Speak to your employer or human resources people. The company may have other policies and support in place for employees who have had a pregnancy loss.
For many people, 2 days leave will not feel like enough at this time. A miscarriage can be very distressing and traumatic. Talk to your doctor and your employer to discuss options for you to take more time before returning to work. There may be other types of leave that you could take to have more time away from work.
How might I feel returning to work?
When you have decided to return to work, it is normal to feel like you are not your usual self. You may have negotiated an agreement that you will be returning to work in phases – meaning that you may choose to work on a part-time basis or work from home until you are ready to return to your usual schedule.
You may find it hard to concentrate, and find you are not doing as much as usual. This is very normal.
Some days can feel pretty good, and other days, not so good. This fluctuation of conflicting feeling is entirely normal. Stress such as work deadlines, a busy schedule, and interactions with some of your colleagues can trigger your grief. It is also natural to feel upset by people at work announcing their pregnancy, being in the presence of pregnant colleagues, seeing colleagues returning to work after parental leave, or invitations to work events with children present.
If your colleagues knew that you were pregnant and if they enquire about your pregnancy once you return to work, opening up about your loss can be very distressing. If you prefer, you can ask your employer to talk to your colleagues on your behalf. This way, people at work will know of your loss and you don’t have to answer any questions about why you were away. Alternatively, you may also choose to write an email to your colleagues to explain why you have been away if you are not comfortable talking about your experience face-to-face.
Remember, it is ok not to tell your workplace of your loss. You may not feel ready or comfortable talking to this group of people about your experience. And you have no obligation to do so.
In those moments where you feel overwhelmed at work, you might find it helpful to give yourself some space by taking a walk, enjoying a coffee, or calling someone who is compassionate and a good listener. You may find support through a trusted person such as your partner, a friend, a family member, a close colleague, or your employer or human resources manager. You can also contact a pregnancy loss support organisation.
Pink Elephants Fertility in the Workplace Program
Pink Elephants Support Network educates businesses and organisations on the impact of pregnancy loss and fertility challenges and provides them with the information and tools to best support their employees. For further information about the workplace support program visit Pink Elephants Support Network.
The information on bereavement leave has been kindly reviewed by
A/Prof Melanie Keep
Director of Academic Education | The University of Sydney | Sydney School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health