How to Return to Work After a Miscarriage: Step-by-Step

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Having a miscarriage can turn your world upside down. 

No matter the circumstances of your pregnancy, a miscarriage is a loss, and how you process it varies from person to person.

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Outside of the heartbreak and grief you may be experiencing, your body is also healing from the experience. Coping with a miscarriage can make it difficult to carry on with daily activities like socializing and going to work.

Of course, not everyone has the flexibility to take a lot of time off work after a miscarriage, and some people may not want to. 

Even for those who truly love their job, returning to work after a miscarriage can feel daunting.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you as you return to work or to support a loved one or colleague who has had a miscarriage.

How Soon Do People Typically Go Back to Work After a Miscarriage?

If you’re wondering when the right time is to return to work after miscarriage, there’s no one answer.

There are a number of factors that influence when someone goes back to work like state laws, company policies, their actual job, the physical demands of their job, the state of their physical and mental health, and their financial situation.

Some people may need a lot of time before returning to work, while others might appreciate the distraction.

The average person may take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months to go back to work after a miscarriage.

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How to Return to Work After Your Own Miscarriage

Unfortunately, many people will have to go back to work before they’re ready.

Whether you feel ready or not, here are some tips to help you return to work after a miscarriage:

Know your company policies

Like mandatory sick and maternity leave, many companies have guidelines for pregnancy loss and health conditions related to pregnancy.

It’s not just company policies to familiarize yourself with. Most of these policies are set around state laws that require employers to offer leave after a pregnancy loss.

Take California, for example. While specifics around miscarriage vary from company to company, the state requires employers to offer at least three paid sick days, which can help heal from a miscarriage.

In the United States, the Federal Family Leave Law allows employees to take unpaid leave for serious health conditions, such as a miscarriage. Medical conditions, as well as mental health conditions, may qualify you for time off under this law; however, it is usually unpaid. 

Some employers do offer bereavement leave; however, Oregon is the only state where it is currently required. 

Whether or not your employer is understanding and flexible, it’s important to know your rights and company policies so that you can advocate for yourself and take the time you need.

Set boundaries

Returning to work after miscarriage may require you to be clear on your boundaries and what you have the capacity for.

Boundaries can mean different things. If you have flexibility in your workload, try to communicate with your supervisor that you may need more time for certain tasks and may not be at your most efficient. 

If you work in a community-oriented space with lots of company happy hours and activities, don’t feel pressured to overextend yourself and do more than you want to.

Know that while you don’t necessarily owe anyone an explanation or the details of your miscarriage, it can benefit you to have a simple answer to tell people.

If people at work knew you were pregnant, you may simply say, “I lost the baby” or “I had a miscarriage” and leave it at that. No one is entitled to the details of your personal life unless you wish to share them.

It may also be helpful to send an email to your supervisor so that they can give a heads up to coworkers so that people know to be sensitive.

There may be certain days that could be triggering like your original due date or the anniversary of a miscarriage. You may want to plan ahead to take these days off.

It’s okay to do the absolute bare minimum after a miscarriage. Especially at the beginning. 

Make time for healing

Even though you’re returning to work, you are most likely still healing physically and emotionally. Be sure to make time for healing to prevent burnout and overextending yourself.

Healing can look like reading blogs about grief or books about miscarriage. These sorts of resources can help you feel less alone by reading other people’s stories and give you practical tools for healing and moving forward.

Here are some other ways you can support your healing after a miscarriage:

  • Be with loved ones. Spend time with people you feel loved and supported by.
  • Support your body by enjoying a massage, bodywork, acupuncture, or another healing modality that works for you.
  • Spend time in nature, whether it’s a simple walk or a camping trip.
  • Go to therapy. There are providers who specialize in pregnancy loss and grief.
  • Slow down. You may feel the rush of going back to a work environment, so try to slow down in the ways you can. That may just mean eating your lunch outside instead of at your desk or taking screen breaks while taking deep breaths.

Be easy on yourself

Many work environments are not conducive to the amount of space people need to really heal. 

It may take you a lot longer to do certain tasks than it normally does, or everyday tasks may be more draining than usual. 

Be easy on yourself and know that things will start to feel normal again—slowly but surely.

How to Support a Loved One Who’s Returning to Work After a Miscarriage

Comforting someone who had a miscarriage means supporting them as they return to a normal pace of life, even when they’re not feeling normal.

After a miscarriage, your loved one needs support as they return to work. 

Here are some ways you can do that:

Help out in other ways

Going to work after a miscarriage may take up all of your loved one’s energy. They may feel too drained to do everyday tasks like cleaning, cooking or ordering meals, and taking care of kids or pets.

While you probably can’t do their job for them, you can make it easier for them to focus by making their home life easier.

Try to take care of these other tasks as much as you can, so that when they’re not working, they can focus on healing and taking care of themselves. 

Even something as simple as packing them a lunch checks one thing off their to-do list, so that they have that much more capacity to do their work.

Listen to them

Your loved one might come home feeling exhausted, irritated, triggered, sad, or any slew of emotions. You can’t fix everything for them, but you can listen to them as they process or unload their day. They might not need a response, just a hug and a shoulder to cry on.

If you’re able to be home before them, you can make their homecoming easier by tidying up, getting a snack ready, and greeting them with things that you know comfort them like a neck massage and chocolate.

The little things can make all the difference.

How to Support a Colleague Returning to Work After a Miscarriage

If you have an employee or colleague who is returning to work after a miscarriage, there are ways you can make their life easier as they heal.

Here are some tips:

Offer tangible support

People don’t always ask for what they need. They may feel guilt or personal pressure to do more than they’re ready for. You can help your colleague by taking as much of a load off them as you can manage.

Instead of asking what they need, you can tell them specifically how you can help them so that all they have to do is say yes. If there are things you can take care of without asking them, that can also help lighten their load.

When someone is grieving from a miscarriage, every little task can feel huge and difficult. Every little thing you can help your colleague with will make their life easier.

Be flexible about their schedule

It may take your colleague longer than usual to get things done. If you are their manager or are able to offer some leniency, try to give them some flexibility around their schedule.

Offer to extend deadlines or for them to go home early if they’re looking especially drained. 

Understand that it can take time

Healing is not linear, and miscarriages can take time to recover from physically and emotionally.

Hold your judgment if your colleague doesn’t seem to be doing their best work, even some time after the miscarriage. 

You never know what someone is going through. Miscarriages can be traumatic, and people may be triggered by little things, especially if they’ve had repeated miscarriages.

It may take some time for them to get “back on track.” You can help make that process easier by being supportive, offering to help, and respecting their boundaries and the ways they need to take care of themselves.

Returning to Work After a Miscarriage

Again, there is no right or wrong time to return to work after miscarriage. 

Although you may not be able to avoid work, you can still do what you need to in order to prioritize your healing and well-being.

Remember that you deserve rest and space to heal.


Sources:
  1. “Pregnancy Disability Leave Fact Sheet”. Department of Fair Employment and Housing State of California. dfeh.ca.gov
  2. “Family and Medical Leave (FMLA).” U.S. Department of Labor. dol.gov

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