Breaking the taboo of miscarriage in Hong Kong
In this edition of Sassy Mama Supports, we speak with Marina Watt, founder of Once a Mama, Always a Mama (OAMA). With much courage and vulnerability, she shares her personal story with miscarriage and what it was like to go through something so painful and personal in Hong Kong. Marina has set up an incredible resource to help support women who have gone through a miscarriage in hopes to support them and offer a sense of camaraderie and community. She also hopes that through OAMA, the topic of miscarriage is no longer taboo and talked about openly. We applaud her for efforts and stand with her in bringing awareness and tangible help to all women who have gone through the pain of losing a child.
Tell us about the story behind OAMA and how it began.
During my second pregnancy, I miscarried on my fifth week. I felt hopeless in getting information and lacked the support that I needed, plus the stress that I face when resuming work prompted me with the initial idea of setting up Hong Kong’s first ever, non-profit, open for all, webpage to help local mummies in need to go through this difficult time in life. Along with two other founding members, Babie and May, Once a Mama, Always a Mama (OAMA) was born.
It’s core focus is to help people in need to go through this difficult time in life, and for affected women in particular, to learn more about themselves and grow through experiencing and reflecting on the loss.
What services are provided by OAMA?
- Offering Relevant Information
We understand that miscarriage is never easy, especially in the Chinese society when the term is not often mentioned. Some of the older generations even think it’s taboo to talk about. What makes it worse, is that subsequent pregnancies after a loss can be a very anxious time, with a real mixture of hope and worry. By establishing a website, we believe it will provide immediate initial information to those affected by miscarriage or stillbirth. Our hope is that it helps them to make sense of what is actually happening and gives them that initial critical support system. O&G doctors and counsellors will be invited to join OAMA by offering their health advice and support to help women in need of medical advice and/or emotional support.
- Dealing with Emotions
Through our website, we hope to provide an online chat/Whatsapp support function where moms can feel safe to open up with other women around. Stay-at-home mothers who have had similar experiences, will be invited to be on stand-by to give their support to affected mothers. By doing this, it also helps to empower stay-at-home mothers to make use of their valuable past experiences and free time to give back in a women helping women campaign. It is proven, that by helping others and sharing your own experiences, helps people who have experienced similar loss and grief situations, to work through their own emotions.
Miscarriage or stillbirth experience is a traumatic experience to women, and men as well. Certified Loss & Grief Counsellor will be invited to do a monthly group counselling session on bereavement.
To help affected women get de-stressed, we will offer a monthly breathing session, taught by certified holistic life coach in Hong Kong. Through deep, expansive conscious breathing with movement, music and guided meditation, we are able to refresh ourselves and release the stress.
‘Be a Better Me’ workshop
The aim of the workshop is to help women learn a bit more about themselves and about life. We hope they will become a more beautiful and mature being through experiencing and reflecting on the loss.
- Spreading Awareness
Miscarriage is a form of bereavement, which is often not acknowledged. People mistake it being something different. By raising the awareness of and knowledge about miscarriage, we can help create a more loving and caring society.
What is the Woman Portrait Campaign?
OAMA has kick-started its first ever society awareness campaign. Our campaign includes taking candid portraits of women affected by miscarriage. Women who have had the experience of miscarriage and women who have not can joined the event in showing their support to this community. Listening to the mothers who went through this experience was heart breaking for all of us. As a woman and a mother, whether you’ve experienced a miscarriage or not, gathering to support the affected mummies was powerful.
We are also honoured to have Grace Lam, Former Senior Fashion Style Editor VOGUE China as our Art Director and Christy Sieux, Former Senior Beauty Editor VOGUE China as our Make-up Artist. The aim of this campaign is to raise the society awareness of miscarriage situation, rallying for more support to women in need and conveying a message of ‘you are not alone.’
Photos will be used for OAMA’s crowdfunding project and website. They will also be showcased in a photo exhibition in January 2018 to reach out to a wider public audience
How can Sassy Mama readers support OAMA and/or get involved?
We kicked-off the crowdfunding campaign on Nextchapter platform. Funds raised in this crowdfunding campaign will be poured back for the development of a website, provision of destress workshops and grief counselling sessions (for free or at a minimal cost), as well as organising educational campaign to raise the awareness of miscarriage and the way to support ourselves or others who suffer from the loss of loved one.
We hope that Sassy Mama readers can support this meaningful campaign by becoming a backer. In return, they will get some unique gifts from our wonderful sponsors.