Tommy’s campaign, #TogetherforChange, is challenging the effects of social media following pregnancy and baby loss
A survey of more than 1,000 women looks at the role social media has in influencing women’s outlook on pregnancy and baby loss.
The survey, conducted by charity Tommy’s, finds 84% of women feel there is an online community after baby loss and 45% report making new friends after connecting with parents who have gone through a similar experience online.
Of course, social media plays a huge role in society today - particularly in pregnancy. From posting about a positive result, 12-week scan images and preparing the nursery, to the notion of having a ‘perfect pregnancy’. While for many, this can be an exciting way to share news and developments with friends and family, for others, it’s not so perfect.
One in four pregnancies end in loss during pregnancy or birth. For the women who experience miscarriage or stillbirth, social media can be either a place of comfort and support, or it can make the experience feel even more difficult.
Tommy’s believe that “every baby lost is one too many” which is why on 10 July they launched #TogetherForChange, a campaign calling for a more open dialogue, and challenging the stigma of silence around baby loss. CEO Jane Brewin says, “It is our duty as a society to talk about baby loss and support those who have been through it.”
Writer and blogger Anna Whitehouse (also known as Mother Pukka) is one of many celebrity mums and influencers supporting the campaign. Anna, who has had five miscarriages, started writing about her experience after the third, as way of connecting with other women in the same position.
“I posted something on my blog and just said, ‘I did choose a name too soon. I did decorate a nursery too soon. And there is nothing that can prepare you for that eerie silence on the scan, a silence that you’re just willing, willing to be filled with the rapid sound of a heartbeat” she tells Tommy’s.
“[Miscarriages] happen to one in four. I think that’s the bit that I struggled with. I couldn’t find that one in four out there. I felt like I was that one on an island, grieving for a person when I was being told, ‘No, it’s not a person - it’s a jumble of cells.’”
Anna believes that since she started writing, the conversation about baby loss is becoming more common. More women are sharing their experiences online, through online forums and communities. “I think the power of social media, the power of sharing [is to] find people who lift you up” she says.
The poll also revealed the darker effects of social media, with 70% of women feeling guilty, 77% feeling angry and 80% feeling jealousy toward their pregnant friends, something Anna recognises, and admits having struggled with herself.
“Every time I heard a birth announcement, it pierced my heart a little” she says. “I was desperate to be fully happy for my friends.”
“But I think you have to accept that when you are grieving for something, your mind isn’t where you want it to be and I think don’t beat yourself up about that - I think people are very understanding.”
When my youngest was born last year, I didn’t know how to communicate it. Having miscarried a number of times previously, I knew the searing jealousy I felt towards others who made it through pregnancy so my fear was I’d be igniting that feeling en masse. But I remember needing to know there was hope, too, and so many of you said Eve’s 👶🏻 arrival was able to offer a glimmer of hope. But hope alone is not enough; you - or anyone you know going through babyloss or miscarriage - needs support, which is something @tommys_thebabycharity offers so brilliantly. It was an honour to support them in this campaign to raise awareness of miscarriage and babyloss - to raise awareness that you are grieving for someone you have lost and that is all affecting, regardless of ‘how common it is’ #togetherforchange #babylossawareness
More than 66% of women felt ‘bombarded’ by pregnancy news and stories following baby loss, while 57% were upset to be targeted by online pregnancy adverts, reveals Tommy’s.
Head of Brand at Tommy’s, Siobhan Gray says, “We know social media has a huge role in our lives and that of parents who have lost babies. We see so many women connecting not only with our research and midwives, but with each other - sharing their experiences, offering advice and support and coming together to tackle the stigma of baby loss.
“We hope that by encouraging and supporting mums and dads to speak about baby loss, we can move to a deeper understanding of their experiences, which will in turn make it much easier for us to engage in research and care for bereaved parents.”
Siobhan continues, “Tommy’s hope that by challenging the social media taboo and the notion of a ‘perfect pregnancy’ people will come together for support following baby loss and become one voice challenging for medical answers and greater awareness.”
The campaign #TogetherForChange launched Tuesday 10 July and highlights the effects of social media following baby loss through a series of videos and a new community forum. Supporters include Giovanna Fletcher, Marina Fogle, Al and Jen Ferguson, Elle Wright and Izzy Judd.
For support, help and advice following baby loss, visit Tommy's.
For mental health information and to find a counsellor near you, visit Counselling Directory.