Personalised Peer Support for Women Going Through Miscarriage
“Connection is why we are here. We’re hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives and without it there is suffering.” Brene Brown
The Pink Elephant Support Network’s Peer Support Programme was created so that women who are currently experiencing miscarriage and early pregnancy loss, can be connected with another woman who has been there before.
“Every woman going through a miscarriage deserves access to a meaningful connection with another woman who has also been through loss,” according to Co-Founder of The Pink Elephant Support Network Samantha Payne. The Pink Elephant Support Network aims to reduce the feelings of isolation women feel after experiencing a miscarriage or early pregnancy loss. Providing personalised peer support to women was an idea that the Co-Founders of The Pink Elephant Support Network came up with, after going through a similar experience.
Providing Personalised Peer Support
The Peer Support Programme was launched as a pilot programme in June 2018. As part of the PSP, women in need have access to up to 6 free phone calls with one of their support ambassadors. All of their ambassadors take part in a two-day training programme which is facilitated by a qualified Bereavement Counsellor. They are strictly monitored and are given a clear referral pathway for both themselves and the women they support, if more formal psychological assessment is deemed appropriate.
The Impact of The Personalised Peer Support Program
In a survey of 1700 Australian women, 75% of women said they felt unsupported and 60% of women would have used a Peer Support Service had it been available. It addresses an unmet need in the community around the way that support is provided to women experiencing miscarriage. “Prior to piloting the Personalised Peer Support program, a lot of women were dealing with emotions of grief which were exacerbated by the isolation of going through loss alone and having no one to share it with,” according to Payne.
The Pink Elephant Support Network has supported 75 women through their Peer Support Programme to date. Of these, the majority of women did not need more than three phone calls. Three were referred on to a psychologist for further assistance. Being able to talk to someone who had gone through a similar journey and understood how they are feeling, makes all the difference. “It gives them a person they could ring at a certain point in time and have a scheduled call. It is not just one session over the phone, it is relationship-building which helps them move onto the next phase of pre-conception,” says Payne.
The Personalised Peer Support Programme has transformed the lives of the Support Ambassadors, who nurture the women who participate in it. One Ambassador has found that, “The women I speak to can talk freely about their experience and grieve openly and healthily which has helped them through the tough first months straight after but also helped their relationships with their partners and families. A few women have said how amazing it is to just know that others have gone through this and that they can talk to someone who ’gets it’.
“For some, that’s all they need – a few phone calls to remind them that it wasn’t their fault but feeling guilty is normal, that they are allowed to grieve, allowed to have sad days, but also boldly tell the world they had a baby who died. It is the most important thing I have done in my life – to help these women who suffer alone or quietly, and it’s something I am very proud to be a part of.”