Samantha Payne recently won the 2019 Telstra New South Wales Business Women’s For Purpose & Social Enterprise Award – and for good reason. She created The Pink Elephants Support Network to support and empower couples through early pregnancy loss. Here she shares her story with The Carousel.
If you had told me five years ago that by 2020 I would have supported more than 10,000 Australian couples through infertility and early pregnancy loss, I would have fallen off my chair in disbelief.
I’d just become a mum to my beautiful daughter Georgie, and had sailed through an easy conception and pregnancy journey. Life with my little girl was a lot of fun. The grief associated with losing a baby, fortunately, just wasn’t on my radar.
Then the time came to start planning for another baby. Again, I fell pregnant straight away. But at eight weeks my world was turned upside down after hearing five powerfully devastating words: “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat.”
I was blessed with another pregnancy three months later, but after eight weeks those five words came back to haunt me again.
I was plunged into a world of heartache I didn’t know possible, and had no clear direction in which to turn for support. Then one day, through a post in a mother’s group on Facebook, I connected with Gabbi Armstrong, who had shared her own experience with pregnancy loss.
It was comforting for me to be able to open up about how I was feeling with someone who’d been there before. Gabbi had suffered through six miscarriages and had also done two years of IVF, and her support meant so much to me.
We agreed that there was an unmet need in the community around the support of women experiencing (early) miscarriage. From the initial miscarriage diagnosis, to the ensuing loss/procedure and knowing what to expect, right down to the support that partners, family and friends can give – women needed and deserved more.
Conversations needed to be had. Validation needed to be given. Connections needed to be made. Information needed to be offered. And so the concept for the Pink Elephants Support Network was created.
What began as a small support network has gone on to help more than 10,000 couples across Australia and countless more through social media. We’ve really been able to harness the power of the digital age and online resources to reach people in even the most remote regions, to offer the support they deserve.
Nearly one in every four pregnancies ends in miscarriage, yet the silence surrounding early pregnancy loss still remains, and I think it’s because people just don’t know how to talk about it. That’s why we are here to offer the validation; that it matters.
The support we offer includes networking, resources, education and awareness programs as well as personalised peer support programs. We are also in the process of launching an outreach program to become a referral pathway for GPs.
I have received the 2019 Telstra New South Wales Business Women’s For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award, which has made Gabbi and I immensely proud of the work we’ve done. Winning this award helps us to continue to reach the 103,000 couples a year that need us to be there for them.
I’m proud to say we are living proof that no one should ever underestimate the power of empathy and love combined with sheer drive and determination!
Inspired by her own experience of heartbreak and isolation through miscarriage, Samantha Payne created The Pink Elephants Support Network. She aims to support, nurture and empower couples through early pregnancy loss.
Samantha recently launched a personalised peer support service, providing a vital connection with another woman who has experienced an early miscarriage. She also provides free downloadable resources for emotional support, that are distributed throughout hospitals and clinics.
Samantha received the 2019 Telstra New South Wales Business Women’s For Purpose & Social Enterprise Award