Britney Spears and the stigma of sharing early pregnancy



I, too, had an early miscarriage last year, followed by another loss during my second trimester at the beginning of this year. I, like Spears, received some compassionate reactions, but not everyone showed me empathy or tact.

Keren Ludski, the chief executive of charity Red Nose that supports families impacted by baby death and pregnancy loss, says women are often judged following pregnancy loss.

“That these keyboard warriors feel the need to judge [Spears], rather than just say ‘we’re so sorry for your loss’ … I genuinely don’t get [it],” she says.

Ludski, who has also had a miscarriage, says it is mostly still expected that people in the western world keep their early pregnancies and losses to themselves. They are also expected to move on quickly following a loss.

“It leaves way too many mothers having to justify why they’re grieving,” she says.

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Ludski says while some parents are pragmatic following a pregnancy loss, for others the grief can be “intense and immense”.

“Women, especially, have the capacity to fast-forward within seconds of that positive pregnancy test,” she says.

The way Spears spoke of her pregnancy on social media indicated that she looked ahead to the life she would have with a third child.

It’s estimated that a quarter or more of all pregnancies end in a loss. Those odds increase with age.

It’s often believed that because miscarriage is common grieving is not justified. Birth is also common, yet we don’t seek to minimise the joy it brings.

When I saw Spears make an announcement early in her pregnancy, I knew there was a possibility that she could miscarry. But whether people keep their news to themselves, share it with close friends or tell the world, we should not judge them for their decision.

Although I didn’t share my news on social media, I was glad that many of my friends and colleagues knew I had been pregnant, so I could receive their support and acknowledgement.

Ludski says sharing pregnancy news early can help the grieving process if something goes wrong as it means people won’t go through the experience alone. But she stresses that it is up to every individual and family when they share.

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Similarly, Ludski says, while some parents want to share their grief, others prefer to do it privately.

For me, it was important that others knew about my losses.

Spears also received praise for her candidness, with some fans thanking her for dispelling the stigma of sharing early pregnancy, and normalising speaking about loss. I, too, am grateful.

Support is available from SANDS on 1300 308 307 or Red Nose on 1300 308 307.

Crisis support is available from Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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