There are a lot of really helpful articles you’ll find on this site regarding the health and development of your baby, recommended products to buy, and family-related topics. However, there is one topic that isn’t as widely talked about that many face in silence. The reality of miscarriage affects one in four women. One in four! Think about that for a second.
It wasn’t until experiencing a miscarriage my first time (I’ve had 3) that I learned my mother had also experienced miscarriage. In fact, she had two before I came around. It’s a topic very few women discussed during my mom’s time, but the reality of miscarriage and infant loss is coming to light more and more as women are becoming more open to talking about it.
This is huge for women that have experienced loss. Whether you carried your baby for just a few weeks or even full-term, a loss is still a loss. For the sake of those that have endured it, I won’t use words such as fetus or spontaneous abortion as the medical terminology will describe it, because it was at some point and will always be a baby.
Ask any woman that has gone through it and she will most likely tell you she still thinks about the baby (or babies) that they never came to know, no matter how far along they were or how much time has elapsed. Women in this critical state are often left wondering why; what was it that they did wrong or didn’t do that caused this to happen. While there are sometimes explanations, more often than not the reasons are left unknown, but in most cases has nothing to do with anything the mother did or failed to do.
If you have at least 5 female friends, chances are you know someone that has dealt with miscarriage or infant loss. They may not have mentioned it to you or it may even be yourself if you’re reading this. The truth is, it’s more common than you might think and it’s during this time you need support. Talking about it can offer some relief from the pain and loneliness you may be experiencing because rest assured, you aren’t alone.
Common Causes of Miscarriage
A miscarriage is defined as pregnancy loss that occurs before 20 weeks or a late miscarriage which may occur after the 20th week mark. The majority of miscarriages that occur happen during the first trimester, which is why many women would wait until they reached their 12th week to announce the pregnancy. As it has become more accepted and acknowledged, more women are choosing to announce their pregnancy earlier and are speaking up on the reality of miscarriage.
Some of the most common causes a miscarriage may have occurred include:
- Genetic defects that are fatal in the baby
- Incompetent cervix
- Uterine abnormality
Other conditions that could potentially result in a miscarriage include medical conditions the mother may suffer from such as Diabetes, hormone problems, physical medical conditions, or have a certain blood type(Rh negative) incompatible with the baby’s. If you have been diagnosed with a previous medical condition before or at the time of your pregnancy it’s important to discuss these with your OB/GYN and receive the recommended medical care that may be necessary.
Debunking Common Myths about Miscarriage
It’s important that you know and understand that a miscarriage isn’t something you can necessarily prevent from happening. For whatever reason, it generally occurs when the pregnancy isn’t normal or there is abnormality with the baby. Here are some common myths that have been rumored to cause miscarriage that simply are untrue.
Myth: Something that you’ve done – in a normal person with no medical or health conditions, performing activities such as lifting on something, having sex or doing exercise does not cause a miscarriage. In fact, if it’s something you do regularly such as exercise your doctor may even encourage you to continue your regular routine for a healthier pregnancy given there are no risk factors. Just be sure to discuss this with your doctor first before trying something new, especially exercise.
Eating certain foods or skipping your prenatal vitamins will most likely not be the cause of a miscarriage. Although eating healthy and managing stress and anxiety levels are encouraged, they are not going to lead you to have a miscarriage.
Myth: A miscarriage increases your chances of having another – It’s estimated that approximately 50% of all pregnancies result in miscarriage, which may occur before the woman even realizes she’s pregnant. It is relatively common, but just because you may have experienced it before does not always indicate it will happen again. In a normal healthy woman under 35, the chances of miscarriage reoccurring is only 15%. In women that have had more than 2 miscarriages in a row, it may be determined that there is an underlying medical issue causing it to occur.
Myth: Bleeding means you’re miscarrying – It’s very common and normal to panic at the sight of pink or red tainted streaks on toilet paper, but bleeding doesn’t always indicate a miscarriage. Some women even experience spotting or light bleeding during pregnancy that they may mistake for a period, not ever realizing they are pregnant until delivery. While this could be a sign that something is wrong, don’t fear the worst. It may be something that can easily be treated while still having a healthy, normal pregnancy. If you do experience any sign of bleeding during pregnancy you should call your doctor right away or go to the nearest emergency room to seek medical attention.
Getting tested and treated for potential risk factors can improve your odds of having a healthy pregnancy. Prenatal care is crucial for the health and well-being of your baby as well as yourself and can reduce your chances of having a preterm birth.
How to Support Someone Who’s Suffered a Miscarriage
If you haven’t experienced a miscarriage or suffered infant loss yourself (or even if you have), it can be difficult trying to support someone who has. It’s not easy for others to understand that haven’t endured it themselves, although they may wish to offer support and comfort in some way. Here are some ideas to help someone after experiencing a loss.
Understanding – Showing compassion to someone who has endured loss is a thoughtful way to show them you care even if you don’t understand what they are going through. Don’t dismiss their feelings of grief and pain. Grieving is also a way of healing – support them with a tissue, a hug, or words of encouragement to let them know you’re there for support.
The worst thing you can do as a result of not understanding the situation is avoiding or ignoring the person. It may be difficult not knowing the right thing to say so try just talking to them and maybe get a better understanding of how they feel. For instance, avoid saying things like ‘you can always have another one’ or ‘it wasn’t really a baby yet’.
Remembrance: showing some sign of remembrance or recognition of the baby that was to-be can mean a great deal to a grieving mother in acknowledgement of her loss. Some ideas include:
- Lighting a candle with some significance such as a pink and blue ribbon tied around it
- Having a t-shirt made that displays a meaningful message such as ‘mother/father/sister/brother to an angel.
- A gift of remembrance such as a necklace, a key chain, medal or even a framed card with an inscription to honor the baby is a kind and thoughtful gesture that they’ll always be remembered.
Support Groups – If someone you love such as a close friend, spouse, or family member has experienced loss from miscarriage or infant loss a support group is a great way to find healing and understanding for both of you. There are many resources available that can provide guidance and support during these times.