AFTER being devastated by two miscarriages, Samantha Payne was in disbelief when she fell pregnant with her “rainbow baby” Johnny. But the joyful news turned her into a “nervous wreck”.
Grief over her lost pregnancies began to grip the mum-of-two who developed an irrational fear while carrying Johnny and after his birth which spiralled into full blown post-partum anxiety and depression.
Shockingly, 282 women a day in Australia experience early pregnancy loss before 20 weeks gestation — that’s 103,000 couples a year — with one in four women under 35 experiencing a miscarriage. By age 35, this increases to one in three, while half of all pregnant women over 40 will lose their baby to miscarriage.
Despite these eye-opening statistics, Ms Payne, who has set up The Pink Elephants Support Network, an Aussie charity to help women who have experienced early pregnancy loss, says people still don’t talk about miscarriages “and if anyone did talk about it, they’d whisper”.
“My first miscarriage was devastating,” Ms Payne, who also has a daughter Georgie with husband Stewart, told news.com.au. “But I felt I could get past it.
“Despite being told how common it was, I was shocked and dismayed by the lack of support offered to me. I found myself turning to Dr Google at 2am, whilst bleeding heavily and experiencing contractions.
“Afterwards, people would say, ‘You’re so lucky to have Georgie’, but we also wanted another child.
“When it happened again straight away after, my grief became a mental health issue.
“It all came back to everything that had happened.”
She said her situation was not uncommon. While 70 per cent of women who experienced a miscarriage would go on to have a healthy full-term baby, what was overlooked was the anxiety they experienced during pregnancy.
“Thirty per cent of these women will receive a clinical diagnosis of post-partum anxiety or postnatal depression,” Ms Payne said.
After becoming pregnant with Johnny, now 18 months old, who she described as her “rainbow baby” (a child born after a miscarriage), she didn’t believe she was pregnant and became a “nervous wreck”.
“I didn’t experience the joy [during pregnancy] I did with Georgie,” Ms Payne said. “My pregnancy with my rainbow baby was nine months of conflicting emotions and absolute fear at every scan or twinge.”
After being diagnosed with post-partum anxiety, she went to see a counsellor.
“It’s something that needs to be spoken about, it needs to be normalised,” Ms Payne said. “It’s really overlooked. People do not talk about it. It’s still a very taboo subject.
“We want to educate people around miscarriage, encourage them to talk about it.
“I’m lucky I’ve been fortunate enough to go on and have a second child, my beautiful baby Johnny, but I still remember how alone and isolated I felt by losses.”
Fertility expert Professor William Ledger, head of Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney, said miscarriage was becoming more common as some women waited longer before starting a family.
He said most were due to a chromosome problem in the embryo — which became more common with female and male ageing — but added there were many causes of early pregnancy loss and…