It happens all the time but we hardly ever talk about it. About one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, leaving many couples struggling with unresolved grief and social isolation. In this 10-part video-based online series, made by Digital Alchemist and funded by NZ On Air, we break down the myths and provide practical help. We hear from well-known NZ personalities - The Hits host and te reo advocate Stacey Morrison, TVNZ presenter and journalist Miriamo Kamo and funeral director Kaiora Tipene from The Casketeers - about their personal experiences and follow the stories of six couples who have been through the trauma of miscarriage.
Infertility and pregnancy loss counsellor Megan Downer knows how difficult it can be to comfort someone who has experienced pregnancy loss.
"Children are very important in all cultures. So where women have had miscarriages, sometimes they can hold a lot of shame around that," she says. "For those supporting someone who has miscarried, do not minimise the loss. Miscarriage is often devastating."
People who haven't experienced miscarriage themselves can underestimate the significance of the loss. When broadcaster Stacey Morrison lost a pregnancy, her first thought was with her friends who had also been through miscarriage, and how she could have been a better source of support for them. "It's so hard as a friend to understand what they've been through, and it's not as tangible," she says.
It can also be hard for other people to understand that although the pregnancy might not have progressed very far, the baby may still have become an important part of the family. "It doesn't matter how early or how far in pregnancy it was," says bereaved parent Maryam Alavi. "The baby was already with us - and we lost that."
Even the most well-intentioned people can say things that feel insensitive, as Noriko Kodera experienced. "I'm sure my mother was trying to encourage me, but I was very hurt by her words," Kodera says. "What she said was: It's very common to have a miscarriage - many people suffer from them. I could not understand why she said that to me when I was in despair."
Sometimes cultural factors come into play. "Most Island families, they just keep it in," explains Nisi Naufahu, whose partner Lisa Moa had a miscarriage. "Because I'll never talk like this to my parents. It's just hard."
Journalist Miriama Kamo has some tips for people who are struggling to find the right words to use to comfort their loved ones. "If you don't know what to say, just say: I am so sorry for your loss, and I hope you're okay, and if you need anybody, I'm here."
Funeral director and star of The Casketeers Kaiora Tipene thinks practical offers are best.
"If anyone could have said to me 'What can I do to help you today?', I probably would have cried but that's what I needed to hear, because I know that person is genuinely there to care for me at that moment."
Watch all the episodes at nzherald.co.nz/MisconceptionsNZ - a new episode will be added each day from Monday to Friday, ending on July 3
Episode One: What is miscarriage?
Episode Two: Types of miscarriage
Episode Three: Causes of miscarriage
Episode Four: Managing miscarriage
Episode Five: Coping with grief
Episode Six: Accessing support
Episode Seven: The silence around the first trimester
Episode Eight: Miscarriage and work
Episode Nine: How to support someone who's going through miscarriage
Episode Ten: Sharing stories of hope