Friday, November 23, 2012

Miscarriage myths

Since my experience with both healthy pregnancies and pregnancy loss it has come to my attention (mostly due to questions and comments people made to me) that there's a lot of misinformation out there. I'm not going to go into too much detail but I'd just like to clear up a few things...

#1. Something is wrong with you/your body if you have a miscarriage

In every pregnancy, regardless of health or number of previous healthy pregnancies there is always a 25% change of loss (although it is higher with maternal age of 35+). This risk goes down with each week and with each milestone (HCG levels rising properly, heartbeat detection, etc etc). This risk applies to all women in every pregnancy. *SOME* women do have conditions which can cause *recurrent* loss (3 or more pregnancies in a row) but only 1% of women suffer from conditions which cause recurrent loss, and still have a 60-70% chance of having a successful pregnancy.

The fact is, miscarriage is unfortunately very common and is NOT an indication that something is wrong with you. If you haven't had a miscarriage, you are just lucky.

In fact, some evidence shows that women who miscarry may in fact be MORE fertile. The reasoning behind this? About 50% of fertilized eggs (only 1% for women using birth control) are rejected by a woman's body, for one reason or another. Yes, that's 50% In women who are not using birth control. These fertilized eggs merely get washed away when a woman has her period, no pregnancy ever occurs as the egg never attaches to the uterus. However, it could be that in women who miscarry, their body accepts a fertilized egg that it SHOULD have rejected. The (possibly) defective egg attaches to the uterus, begins to grow, and is eventually shut down due to its defects.

Basically, the risk is always there no matter what. It's just part of life.

#2 miscarriage is caused by stress

Think about it... If this was true no women would ever need to seek an abortion. I'm sure the stress of an unplanned/unwanted pregnancy would be more than sufficient to end the pregnancy. Not to mention its unlikely than any woman has had a completely "stress free" pregnancy.

Regardless, asking a woman if her loss was "caused by stress" is just insulting and hurtful.

#3 an early loss is "just like a heavy period"

In some cases this might be true, but telling someone "we'll it's just like you had a heavy, late period" is not only insensitive, but do you really think the poor woman wants to tell you "no actually I've been flushing chunks of fetus/placenta/gestational sac/fruit sized blood clots down the toilet and I'm having labor contractions." <--- this is why many women opt for a d&c procedure to end the process more quickly. Although this can be accompanied with its own potential risks.

#4 an embryo/fetus isn't a real baby so you shouldn't be so sad

Regardless of when you think life begins, even though some miscarriages are void of any embryo to begin with, it is still a loss. Once a woman knows that she is pregnant the idea of a baby is there.

I think I am fortunate that I did not see a fetus or heartbeat in the pregnancy I lost because in my mind that would have made it more difficult. However, I still dreamed of what that baby would look like someday. I was still planning and getting things ready. I was pregnant for over a month!!! About 8 weeks gestation. Of course I was starting to get ready and thinking and dreaming.

Well it's all those dreams and hopes that get ripped away once the worst happens. And it hurts. It hurts bad enough to make you feel crazy.

#5 god is the only one who can comfort you

While this may be true for some, I actually found that looking at it from a scientific perspective was more helpful. Instead of trying to figure out what lesson I was supposed to learn or why this was happening to me, I just realized that it was truly part of nature. My body was doing what it was supposed to do, that is all. It made it so much easier for me to cope. So please keep this in mind- for some of us the science actually can be more comforting. For some it may make the loss seem meaningless, but we all cope differently and it's important to remember this.

Also, what truly helped, was people's empathy. Realizing that SO many women have experienced this unfortunate situation and hearing their encouraging words really truly made a difference.


I've spent a lot of time researching this as it has helped me cope with my loss. I also asked my new doctor several questions about my case in particular. I suffered a very typical miscarriage, most likely due to chromosomal defects (very, very common). I had no influence on my situation as my HCG levels did not rise properly from the start and my ultrasound results were inconclusive. I was aware of my pregnancy for 5 short weeks and then it was all over. I couldn't have prevented it and had no control over the outcome.

Please be aware of these myths and how your comments/questions may inflict more pain on someone who is suffering a loss. Insensitivity can also be very hurtful :(

I hope this post helped answer some questions that many are probably afraid to ask and that the information is helpful in understanding this difficult situation that so many women face.