Miscarriage — the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week — occurs in up to 20 percent of known pregnancies. When women and families are mourning, some find themselves wishing for more support.
Miscarriage — the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week — occurs in up to 20 percent of known pregnancies. When women and families are mourning, some find themselves wishing for more support.
We all know that the emotional and physical toll of a miscarriage is incredibly high, but you might not know that the actual price tag for a lost pregnancy is also high — even for women with “good” medical insurance. That’s why one woman is speaking out about how much she had to pay when she had a miscarriage nine weeks into her pregnancy: So that more people would be aware of how expensive this personal tragedy can be — in more ways than one.
Janie Faville, 27, a Kansas City social worker, shared a photo to Facebook of the bill she got for the treatment she received following her miscarriage — and, as you can see, it’s nothing to sniff at:
“Because people don’t talk about it, I will,” Faville wrote in her caption.
“This is how much a miscarriage costs with good insurance. THIS is why we need Planned Parenthood.”
$1,369.57. That’s a lot of money to pay for an absolutely necessary medical treatment — a D&C, or dilation and curettage — that Faville needed through no fault of her own. A D&C, in case you’re not familiar, clears the lining of the uterus following a miscarriage to prevent both infection and heavy bleeding (which otherwise might last for weeks). Basically, it’s not the kind of thing you can decide to skip because you want to save a few bucks. Not that we’re talking about just a few bucks: The total cost, as the Explanation of Benefits in the photo reads, came to $5,584 — and even though Faville has a $1,000 deductible, she still had to pay $1,369.57 out of pocket.
“It wasn’t something that necessarily blindsided me, but it was another thing to have to deal with as you’re moving forward in your process of grief,” she told SELF.
“I kept thinking about people who are so financially strained that [the cost of a miscarriage] could make them lose their house or their apartment or their car or transportation,” Faville said. “Or they would have to choose between that and food.”
Unfortunately, the reality that Faville describes is all too common, particularly for uninsured women. As she says, “THIS is why we need Planned Parenthood.” Because many Planned Parenthood locations offer miscarriage treatment services (from medication to procedures to monitoring and counseling) at a lower cost than hospitals.
Still, Planned Parenthood can’t be expected to fill in all the gaps. What we REALLY need is affordable, comprehensive health insurance for women that actually protects them when they need anything and everything from birth control to a pap smear to a C-section. These are real life needs that are a non-negotiable part of being a woman. Why should insurance companies be able to negotiate their way out of covering them?
And yet, we seem to be moving away from this goal, not towards it. While the Affordable Care Act made it illegal to deny women maternity care and required insurance companies to charge women and men the same prices for the same coverage, the Obamacare repeal promised by the Trump administration could put an end to those measures — and take health coverage away altogether from millions and millions of Americans (of both genders). Also highly troubling is the fact that Seema Varma, Trump’s choice to run the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, has said that pregnancy, maternity, and newborn coverage should be optional in health care plans.
Luckily, Faville was able to work out a payment plan arrangement so she didn’t have to come up with the full amount all at once. But it’s still a huge expense, and one that could be crippling for those in less fortunate situations. That’s why it’s so important for women like Faville to come forward and share their stories — because the more people are aware of the real costs associated with health care for women, the more people will (hopefully) protest unfair practices and demand change.
A miscarriage is a painful enough experience without the added burden of potentially crippling debt. And no one should ever have to suffer unbearable financial consequences from receiving necessary medical care. Let’s all make our voices heard!
When I was trying to conceive a baby, I had three miscarriages in four years.
I feel blessed that, when I got pregnant naturally at the age of 40 (surprise!), I had a healthy pregnancy and gave birth to a vibrant daughter. But at the time of each miscarriage, I did not know if I would ever get pregnant again. And, if I did get pregnant, would I have another loss? Those fears never go away.
If someone close to you has had a miscarriage, it’s difficult to know what to say. Knowing what NOT to say, however, is equally important! I have heard all of these phrases at least once — mostly from well-meaning friends and family.
1. At least you can get pregnant.
When the pregnancy results in a loss, this phrase does not provide comfort. Tacking on the “at least” does not help.
2. At least you miscarried early in your pregnancy.
Does it matter how late or early you miscarried? All my miscarriages happened between week 5 and 7, before I heard a heartbeat, but that did not make it easier. The physical effects of a miscarriage vary depending on how far along you are during your pregnancy. For example, because I miscarried early on, I was never admitted to the hospital, and I could make do with over-the-counter pain relievers. The emotional side effects, however, were quiet strong. A miscarriage means a lost child, no matter when it occurs.
3. It happened for a reason.
Also known as the “it was meant to be” platitude, this is a phrase that many people fall back on when they don’t know what else to say. But this is not helpful for a woman who has miscarried. Oftentimes, that elusive “reason” is what we spend all of time trying to discover, and we don’t need a reminder of the ambiguity of it all.
4. Maybe your eggs are bad and/or old.
Talk about a downer. All of my pregnancies occurred without fertility treatments, but we met with a fertility specialist to see what he had to say. He said this phrase to me verbatim when he saw that my FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) level was 16. Thanks for the vote of confidence. We stopped seeing him after this.
5. Maybe you shouldn’t have eaten this/drank that.
This one is tough, and it’s also one that you will hear a lot from other well-meaning women, including women who have had losses. I deleted my account from a message board dedicated to women with fertility issues over this very personal debate because I couldn’t take one more person telling me that my one cup of coffee a day caused my miscarriage. It didn’t.
On the flip side….
6. Maybe you should have eaten this/drank that.
This one isn’t so helpful, either. This phrase is tough because again, well-meaning women recommended “solutions” that could have prevented my miscarriage, such as drinking certain teas, taking certain vitamins, and eating certain fruits. I was grateful for the suggestions, but I don’t want to hear that a cup of raspberry tea could have saved my unborn child. It couldn’t.
7. You’ll forget about it over time.
No, I won’t, and why do I have to? Women and their partners never forget about a miscarriage. While time does help to heal wounds, it doesn’t make us forget them — and I believe that we shouldn’t forget about a miscarriage because it is a part of our lives, forever. Time helped me to heal, but I will never forget it. It’s not healthy to dwell on the sadness in an unhealthy way, but it is absolutely okay to keep the memory.
8. It’s better than having a child born with problems.
When thinking about the things you should never say to a woman who’s had a miscarriage, this statement makes me cringe the most because it insinuates so many insulting things. Please don’t assume that I would have loved my baby any less if she had been born with developmental challenges.
9. Don’t worry — I’m sure you’ll get pregnant again right away.
But maybe I won’t. Maybe it took me a very long time to get pregnant with this baby, and maybe you don’t realize that I’ve been told by a medical specialist that I have less than a 1 percent change of carrying a baby to term. For many women, getting pregnant just isn’t that simple.
10. Maybe this means you aren’t ready for a baby yet.
Nope, I did not miscarry because I wasn’t ready to be a mom. I was ready for a baby, I tried for a baby, and I wanted a baby (I wanted this baby).
If someone close to you has had a miscarriage, you don’t have to provide reasons for why it happened. A hug and “I’m sorry” go a long way
The loss of a pregnancy is different from any other loss in that you have not really even met the person that you are grieving over. Yet this loss can also be devastating no matter when it happens or what the circumstances were. Loss of a pregnancy means disappointment and loss of a set of dreams. It is combined with worry about whether you will be able to fall pregnant again and whether you will ever be able to fulfil the dream of carrying a child to term and becoming a parent.
One of the most important points to remember in coping with a miscarriage is that this loss is no less than any other and that your grief is as real as anyone else’s, albeit a little different in nature.
Many women feel as though they are not justified to mourn the loss of a pregnancy and that they should “get over it” quickly.
While everyone needs to move forward and onward after the loss of a loved one, you do need time to heal and move through the mourning process naturally, and this is a personal journey. Coping with a miscarriage means validating the loss and allowing yourself to grieve over the miscarriage.
You may notice that you move through the 5 stages of grief. You may experience denial where you find it nearly impossible to fully grasp what has happened. You are unable to accept that the pregnancy has terminated and you may find yourself in a state of shock. You might also experience anger – at yourself, at your partner and even at your doctor. You will find yourself angry at anyone who can shoulder the brunt of your anger. After all, this isn’t fair and it shouldn’t have happened to you. You may find yourself struggling with depression, a lack of motivation and feeling tearful a lot of the time and you may even experience envy over other moms who are carrying to term and giving birth to healthy babies. Don’t be surprised to experience resentment, bitterness and helplessness as well. Although you may find yourself dealing with all these emotions and feelings, recognise that you will also heal and at some point you will accept what has happened and move forward.
Allow yourself the time to move through the grief process at your own pace and to find acceptance and peace at the end.
Coping with a miscarriage means realising that your partner may not be grieving in the same way or intensity as you. Allow your partner the space and time to grieve in their own way and try to remain connected through this difficult period. While envy and resentment are common emotions after a miscarriage, especially repeated miscarriages, try not to close yourself off from other people. You need the support and you need to carry on living your life. Perhaps the guilt of self-blame is standing in the way of your healing – make sure that you are able to realise that this is not your fault. Neither you nor your body are to blame for the loss. If you have some unresolved issues regarding the miscarriage then it is strongly recommended that you find a psychologist to help you work through these difficulties.
Experiencing a pregnancy loss is unforeseeable and unfathomable. Couples who go through a miscarriage are often jilted to the core. Their entire beings are shifted irreversibly, and their relationships transformed. Going through grief with a partner can seem like an easier process than going it alone. But the truth is, until you actually go through a traumatic experience with your partner you will not know how each other is going to handle it. For some couples it can be a severely devastating and difficult experience to navigate together. But there are ways to help your relationship after a miscarriage.
There aren’t too many large studies on pregnancy loss and the rate of break up and/or divorce. But according to a large study done in 2010 and published in Pediatrics, couples who experienced miscarriage were 22 percent more likely to break up than couples who had successful pregnancies. Additionally, those who experienced a stillbirth were 40 percent more likely to break up or divorce. The study said most couples broke up within one-and-a-half years after the loss. But researchers saw the higher risk for separation up to a decade after the pregnancy loss.
Many think going through traumatic experiences with another person can bring you together. And that may be true in some cases. But as concluded in the same study, pregnancy loss and stillbirths are enormous stressors and can significantly impact even the strongest of relationships.
Dr. Jessica Zucker, a clinical psychologist that specializes in pregnancy loss and miscarriage, and founder of the campaign #ihadamiscarriage has had a miscarriage herself. She counsels other couples going through loss and knows first-hand what navigating a pregnancy loss with a partner can look like and feel like.
“You see a lot about your partner when you go through challenging times,” Zucker says in an interview with Romper. “Some might say through sickness and in health, but when you’re actually in it and watching how someone navigates unforeseeable and unfathomable experiences you may change your tune.”
As challenging as it may be to work through all of that grief, it’s not impossible. And some couples can ultimately work together to heal and stay together. Here are nine ways to help your relationship after a miscarriage.
“Couples can help either encourage each other or be comforting witnesses to allowing their partner to lean into grief,” Zucker says. “We tend to stave off uncomfortable feelings, but generally I find the sooner you lean into the uncomfortable feelings, the sooner you get out of them.”
Because of societal taboos surrounding out of order death (meaning child before parent) many women feel shame and guilt after miscarriage. They may feel silenced by those around them. They might feel it so much that they don’t even want to open up to their partner about it.
“Shame is usually something we don’t say out loud and that’s why it becomes shame,” Zucker says. “If couples allow themselves to be vulnerable and let their partner know them in this time, in this place and in this process I think there’s a lot of potential benefit there.”
“Saying yours is worse, or mine is worse, that’s not going to help the grief dissipate,” Zucker says. She reminds couples to stay open-minded about what grief looks like. For some it might be very apparent, for others their grief might be less visible. Grieving is a very unique experience and one that doesn’t have a definite timeline.
“Honoring both ways of grieving and honoring the fact that you may be showing it differently, expressing it differently, and feeling it at different times — all of that is valid,” Zucker says.
Zucker urges couples to not try to figure out or dwell on who’s perceived ‘fault’ it is. She says some people question if it was due to a sperm, egg, or age issue. She recognizes that many women feel like their body has failed them after a miscarriage, but in the end it could have been a sperm issue. Regardless, she says it’s best not to figure out fault and dwell on it.
“Ultimately it only matters for the medical purposes of moving forward in terms of getting pregnant again,” Zucker says. “But from emotional standpoint it doesn’t really do couples well to do this back and forth, it just pits them against each other and that’s not ultimately healing by any means.”
This is not brought up to be competitive. But, it is absolutely worth noting that the person who’s body actually went through the loss will undoubtedly feel more about the loss. Beyond the emotional feelings, the physicality of reproductive loss needs to be recognized, understood, and acknowledged in its entirety.
“If a woman starts bleeding, or she has to get a D & C, or if she’s been bleeding afterwards, or if she’s been cramping, if she has to wait cycles to try again, if she has to go to multiple doctors appointments — she’s the one that has to do that,” Zucker says. “Sometimes the blood loss weeks after is a physical reminder of your loss every day.”
Turning to substances or alcohol in a time of trauma can be tempting, but Zucker warns against it. She also suggests not turning to people outside of the relationship because then it takes away from the work the couple needs to do together to heal. A little venting here and there is OK, but when you only turn to other substances to cope, or other people to vent it becomes problematic. She reiterated from a past article with Romper that the best way a couple can support each other in times of loss is to turn to each other for help.
It doesn’t matter how far along you were when the pregnancy loss or stillborn happened, you can honor the life however you see appropriate. The Pregnancy Loss website noted that you don’t need to pretend your baby didn’t exist or it wasn’t a real baby. There are many ways to do remember your baby such as making a memory box, planting a tree, starting a foundation in the child’s name or getting tattoos. Zucker suggests a couple memorialize the baby together even if they don’t want to as a way to heal and connect through the grief.
No matter what the final outcome of the situation, to even begin to try to work through the feelings both partners need to commit to healing together. You both have to want to make the relationship survive. This might mean you read books together, attend support groups, or mutually agree to go to therapy.
Sometimes you see things for what they really are and you let go. Shelley Whetton wrote in the Huffington Post that it took a miscarriage for her to realize her marriage was over. Her husband had acted aloof and dismissive at the news of her miscarriage. In those harrowing and lonely moments she knew she would divorce him one day.
Some couples simply change too much after pregnancy loss. Or sometimes, one partner doesn’t show up emotionally for the other one like they need or expect. And other times the traumatic experience of losing a baby conjures up old dysfunctions. You will never know how it will go, until you go through it.
The unnerving part of the whole grieving process after a pregnancy loss is you never know if you and your partner will make it. But, not knowing can also be comforting as it can be totally up to you on whether you and your partner stay together.
“Let’s take a peek, shall we?” I was 10 weeks pregnant with our second child. I pulled up my shirt and unbuttoned my pants, exposing the long, horizontal scar from the cesarean birth of our daughter, Guthrie. Under the florescent lights of the small examining room, my doctor rolled the wand over my belly. “Your uterus is very low. We’re going to need a vaginal ultrasound.”
My body stiffened. Minutes later, with a thin, pink paper draped over my lap and a cold rod inside me: “Your baby is measuring a bit smaller than we’d expect.” My doctor’s hand landed on my right thigh, a movement driven by muscle memory from delivering this news before. “I’m having trouble finding a heartbeat.”
In silent miscarriages — occurring in around 1 or 2 percent of all pregnancies — women don’t experience symptoms of typical miscarriage like bleeding or cramping. In fact, I still felt pregnant. I was nauseous and bone-tired. My body was playing a trick on me: Even though the fetus had died, my placenta continued releasing hormones.
My doctor outlined three choices: Wait up to two weeks for my body to naturally miscarry, take medication to make my uterus contract and expel the pregnancy, or have a surgical procedure under general anesthesia called a D&C. Whatever I decided, I wanted to wait for my husband to travel from Alaska, where he works as a pilot, back to our home in Oregon.
It was early March. Outside, a cold rain fell, leaving thick drops on the windows. I lay in bed, my spirits lifted by the honey aroma of a daffodil bunch on my bedside table. My brother and his wife entertained Guthrie. They swooped in from their home a three-hour drive away after I called to break the news. (Two weeks earlier, Guthrie let the cat out of the bag that I was pregnant to my brother on FaceTime when she exclaimed excitedly, “There’s a baby in my belly!” My brother paused, then said: “Oh reeeally? Are you sure the baby is in your belly?”)
In bed, I reflected upon the decade my husband and I have been together. I wondered, if I could, would I change our path, insert building a family earlier into our timeline? We met in our early 20s. We spent the next decade doing what many in our generation are doing, growing careers and exploring ourselves deeply. Months after we took vows, we bought a crate and chew toys for our new puppy, not furnishings for a nursery.
The rate of miscarriage rises along with an expecting mother’s age: According to a 2000 study of more than 600,000 women, the risk of fetal loss is around 10 percent in your early 20s, around 20 percent at age 35, and around 80 percent at age 45. I am 36. I used to scoff at statistics regarding older first-time mothers. Whenever anyone mentioned advanced maternal age, I’d roll my eyes and change the subject.
When my husband arrived home, the growing fear of what I had to go through physically overshadowed the emotional toil of losing a child. I chose the medication route. Six hours after inserting four white round pills inside me, I began contractions, slow at first, then strong and punishing, every 10 seconds. I experienced transition, the most difficult part of birth. I sweat. I screamed. I vomited. The effort ended with the passing of a 6-inch, liver-colored gestational sac into our downstairs bathroom toilet.
Four days later, I woke to daggers in my lower abdomen. An ultrasound confirmed a small amount of tissue remained. A few hours later, I drifted from consciousness under the gaze of a freckled, sincere-eyed anesthesiologist. Surgery was performed, tissue removed.
Women can miscarry at any age. It has for time immemorial come with the unpredictable territory of giving birth. But to feel impermeable to the fact that my chances of miscarrying increased as I got older left me flat-footed when those statistics became my reality. As older mothers, we also face the increased risk of having a baby with genetic disorders. Given these risks, we’re offered a wider range of prenatal genetic testing options than younger mothers. This type of testing forces us to confront complex moral and ethical decisions that, as a generation, I don’t believe we’ve debated enough.
If I could do it all again, would I change our family trajectory? I only have to hear my daughter’s soft voice to answer that question. And there are many potential advantages — gathered wisdom and financial resources, for example — to being older parents. But open dialogue in our society about the realities of advanced maternal age may help parents navigating these waters make more informed decisions and feel less alone in the process.
My doctor advised us to wait two months before trying again. As time passed, my husband and I questioned whether or not to have another child. I wasn’t sure I could go to bat again. Physically, I felt healed but the emotional wound of a miscarriage festered. An afternoon building sandcastles on the beach with Guthrie delivered the balm I needed. Our family of three didn’t feel chaotic enough. The magnitude of the ocean made the fears I was holding onto seem small in comparison. Last week, our unborn child’s heartbeat resounded around the same examining room I’d heard silence in six months before.
Any expectant mother would vouch for the fact that the thought of seeing her infant’s face would help her tide over all the challenges of pregnancy. Unfortunately for many, this remains an unfulfilled dream since they face the bane of miscarriage early on in their pregnancy. The trauma of an expectant mother who loses her unborn child is sometimes life changing, putting many women off pregnancy for a very long time. However, a miscarriage doesn’t mean that you have to stop trying for a child. Dr Sangeeta Jhadav, an Ayurvedic practitioner reveals where women go wrong and what they could do to minimise the risk of a miscarriage.
Prepare for conception with detoxification: “The problem with young couples these days is that they focus only on their lab tests and results. They do not have a holistic approach towards pregnancy,” reveals the doctor. The doctor recommends that couples consult a good Ayurvedic physician and understand their Doshas and Prakrutis.”Even before the child is conceived, husband and the wife should undergo a complete ‘Sanshodhana’ or detoxification.” The toxic build up in the tissues should be cleaned through Panchakarma treatments before trying for a child. This practice will ensure a good start towards conception and pregnancy.
Go Satvik: Apart from eating a balanced, nutrient-rich diet, expectant mothers should stick to a Satvik diet for a successful pregnancy. Before you get alarmed, Satvik doesn’t necessarily mean a vegetarian or a restrictive diet; it simply means a diet that is healthy, pleasant, mild and pleasing to the stomach; not excessively spicy or oily like Rajasik food or stale like Tamasik food. Apart from that, food should be taken on time. Dr Jhadav also warns women against falling for the ‘eat for two people’ trap. “Eat in limited quantities, but eat on time,” stresses Dr Jhadav.
Take life lightly: Bringing home job-related stress can worsen your pregnancy woes and make your hormones go out of balance. Dr Jhadhav explains, “Women ruin the circadian rhythm of their body by working late or opting for night shifts at work. For those without supportive partners, the stress is two fold; imagine having to worry about the household and the workplace at the same time.” Improving the mood should be of paramount importance to the mother, especially the ones with Pitta Prakruti, who are easily angered. Sleep well and indulge in some deep breathing exercises and calming meditation for a brighter mood.
Look out for the signs: Expectant mothers should take a close look at their daily routines. “One of the biggest signs that point towards the mother’s good health is how fresh she feels when she wakes up,” Dr Jhadav adds. Apart from that, she should also check the frequency of her bowel movements. Any irregularities in these two areas should be addressed through a proper panchakarma routine, according to the doctor.
Do not forego exercise: Indulge in some light exercises, says the doctor. “Go for 45-minute walks and practice Yoga for around 5-10 minutes daily,” she adds. Combining light cardio like walking with Yoga can have some wonderful effects. Simple asanas like Pavanmuktasan, Vajrasan and Parvatasan can be practised by expectant mothers to help prepare their body for a normal childbirth. Apart from keeping them fit, Yoga also helps in calming the mind and allaying all the fear and anxiety about childbirth that the mother may harbour during pregnancy.
Miscarriage is common, but because many women never talk about it after the fact, misconceptions abound.
Miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy that occurs within the first 20 weeks. Even though miscarriage, also known as spontaneous abortion, is common, many women have misconceptions about it, doctors say. And many women who have a had a miscarriage simply don’t talk about it.
One exception to keeping a low profile was the announcement in 2015 by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, that they were expecting a baby and had previously experienced three miscarriages. Doctors applauded their openness, reasoning that the more women know, the better equipped they are to handle the loss should they experience their own miscarriage.
Here are eight miscarriage facts every woman should know:
“It’s much more common than you think,” says Siobhan Dolan, MD, MPH, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and women’s health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, and a medical adviser to the March of Dimes.
While the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) estimates that 10 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, the actual number is probably higher, Dr. Dolan says.
“A lot of them happen before women realize they’re pregnant,” says Sarah Prager, MD, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of the family planning division at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. “I tell women they’re very common, and potentially up to a third of women will experience a miscarriage at some point in their lives.”
With age, the risk goes up, notes ACOG.
In fact, they’re among the most common symptoms, according to ACOG. In early pregnancy, you may experience a small amount of both bleeding and cramping; you should get checked by your doctor if either happens.
When you have these symptoms during pregnancy, your doctor will do a physical exam and may order an ultrasound, as well as blood tests to measure hormone levels, before making a definitive diagnosis.
After a miscarriage, you can choose from the following three treatment approaches, which are all equally effective, according to ACOG:
Dr. Prager helped to develop the updated recommendations on early pregnancy loss for ACOG that were released in April 2015. Of the three methods, she says, “They’re all equivalent enough and safe enough that as long as the patient doesn’t have a contraindication [a medical reason not to do it] for one of the methods, it should be based on what she wants to do.”
According to Dolan, it’s typically not necessary to do tests and evaluations at this point. “Only after two or more miscarriages does the risk of a future miscarriage increase,” Prager agrees. After two, she says, there’s an increased risk, but it’s not significantly higher from a statistical point of view. Only after three miscarriages does the risk rise to a significant level, she says.
After several pregnancy losses, your doctor may advise testing and evaluation to try to pinpoint problems that are hampering the progression of a healthy pregnancy.
Women tend to beat themselves up needlessly after a miscarriage, according to Dolan and Prager, saying things like, “If only I had taken that prenatal vitamin sooner,” or “If only I hadn’t exercised so strenuously.”
According to ACOG, ”Working, exercising, having sex, or having used birth control pills before getting pregnant do not cause early pregnancy loss.” In addition, women sometimes think that a fall, blow, or having a fright caused the miscarriage. In most cases, according to ACOG, this is not true.
“Most of the time, there’s nothing a woman could have done differently to change the outcome of her pregnancy if she has a miscarriage,” Prager says.
Many miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus, Prager says. She tells women that a miscarriage is often the body’s way of correcting what wasn’t going to be a healthy pregnancy.
“Women should take time to process that loss,” Dolan says, and so should their partners. Prager tells women and their partners, “It’s really normal to grieve, even if it’s very early” in the pregnancy, because you may have already begun to bond with the unborn baby.
Experts agree that grieving the loss is very natural. “Conversely,” Prager says, “some women can be relieved if they weren’t planning the pregnancy.” And that’s perfectly normal, too.
Both partners may grieve after a miscarrige, though possibly for different periods of time and in different ways, says Prager.
“Women may grieve longer,” she says, adding that she always offers the option of seeing a social worker or other mental health professional if a woman is having trouble.
Most women who have a miscarriage do go on to become pregnant again and have a healthy child, Dolan says. She tells women, “You may not get to the outcome [of a healthy baby] tomorrow. But keep in mind you will probably get there. The end is achievable for most women and most families.”
I have two beautiful daughters, but I don’t mind telling people that I’ve had not two, but four pregnancies to get the family I have today. Sure, sometimes people recoil in horror when I tell them, or at the very least, shift uncomfortably in their seats but that’s precisely the reason I’m so vocal about it. Maybe if more of us speak up about the loss of our babies, eventually the reactions (and subsequent dialogue) will change? God I hope so.
Statistics tell us one in four pregnancies will end in miscarriage, but experts say even this figure is a conservative estimate. “This rate could be as high as 50 percent,” admits obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr David Kowalski. “But sometimes the miscarriage occurs so early that the woman may not have even been aware that she was pregnant in the first place.” Statistics I could work with when I was sitting at the hospital clutching my ‘thanks for playing’ show-bag, but the following information? Well that’s something I could have done with. Hell, they’re facts we can ALL do with.
1. You almost certainly did not cause the miscarriage
Was it the brie I accidentally ate, or the fumes from our kitchen renovation? Night after night, I lay awake driving myself crazy as I played the blame game but the truth is there’s very little you can do to cause a miscarriage. “You need to remember that there are women all around the world who are firefighters, drug addicts or working for the Taliban who have no issues with their pregnancies whatsoever,” says Dr Kowalski. The simple truth of the matter is that the vast majority of miscarriages occur due to either embryonic abnormalities or implantation problems – two things you have absolutely no influence over.
2. No two miscarriages are ever the same
Screaming for more morphine at the hospital, I remember thinking two things: how can you lose so much blood and continue to live, and how much pain can the human body endure and yes, continue to live. My experience was agony (thanks for nothing Hollywood with your portrayals of a slight trickle and subtle cramping), but everyone’s miscarriage will be as unique as they are as individuals. “What you feel depends on how far along in the pregnancy you were,” reveals Dr Kowalski. “A pregnancy that ends at 13 weeks is always going to be more painful than one that ends at four weeks.”
I received what I like to call ‘the show-bag of death’ before I was discharged from the hospital but I found its ‘why have a baby when you can have these chocolates instead?’ content depressing. That said, I know of other women who found their own show-bags somewhat comforting. Go figure.
3. Medical professionals can have a (shocking) way with words
One minute my babies had names and futures, and the next they were being referred to by my then-obstetrician as ‘conception waste’ or ‘product of conception’ – a way of speaking which only served to further traumatise me.
Dr Kowalski is at pains to point out he’s never spoken to his patients in this way, but concedes such terminology among his peers is all-too-common. “Medical jargon when it comes to this field has always been quite misogynistic (he points to terms such as ‘confinement’ and ‘failure to progress’ as examples) and often these terms have been established as a way to distance yourself from any emotional connect.”
There’s nothing you can do to instill sensitivity in others, but you can vote with your feet for your next pregnancy. “Ultimately you want to be supported by a doctor who can say to you, “So what if everyone else says you can have another baby? You wanted that baby and I can understand that.”
4. When it comes to grief, everything is normal
Just as the physical process of miscarriage varies between women, so too does the emotional. Some may leave hospital and try to pretend it never happened, others may name their babies and hold a funeral service. Me? I liked to punch pillows and glare at happy mothers walking past with their equally happy babies as I angrily prayed for the sun to drown us all. Each of these reactions (plus every other one you can think of) is normal, says Dr Kowalski. “Anger, grief, hopelessness and denial are all common feelings, but what’s important is that no matter which one it is you’re feeling, that you are being supported by a loved one.”
5. You can make changes to help influence the outcome next time
When it came time to try for my now-three-year-old Ivy, I left Dr ‘Conception waste’ and found an obstetrician who was willing to take my concerns (and high levels of anxiety) seriously – and you should too. “A good obstetrician will monitor you closely, whether it’s checking the baby’s heartbeat each week, or prescribing medication that can help decrease your chance of a miscarriage – particularly in high-risk pregnancies,” says Dr Kowalski, who adds that you should request the same kind of support at home. “If at any point you feel unsupported, that’s because you areunsupported so speak to your doctor or counselor about getting additional help during your next pregnancy.”
6. And lastly, you will never be the same person again
The most vivid conversation I had with my grief counselor was when she hugged me and told me to also take the time to grieve for the person I once was. “You’ll never be the same person again,” she told me as I cried all over her shoulder. “A version of, yes, but the same? Never.”
She was right in many different ways. My grief robbed me of my naivety and took away any joy I could have experienced throughout my pregnancy with Ivy (every day, every hour was emotional agony). I still have days when I get angry, sad, or feel puzzled that the world hasn’t stopped turning, but there have also been unexpected positives too. Having experienced the loss of two babies, I went into motherhood with Ivy a much kinder, patient and forgiving mother. Losing my babies may never get easier, but I’m comforted by the knowledge that their very short lives moved mountains. Hope is out there.
The morning I lost my baby was a completely normal, boring morning. I got ready for work, made it there with at least five or ten minutes to spare, joked with my boss about a card she found, sat down and did my thing. I write all this because it was such a completely and totally innocuous morning. No pain, no cramping, nothing wrong. When I saw the blood in the toilet, my boss took me to the hospital as a precaution, not because either of us thought anything was truly wrong. I was eleven weeks pregnant, after all, and chances were likely this was the spotting that so many newly pregnant women experience. It wasn’t. Though I’d never had reason to think about it before, within less than 24-hours I knew there were at least
I want to start by disclosing that it’s been Years for me since I lost my baby, but somehow it still hurts. Last week I found out a friend of mine lost hers and I knew it was time to write this post. So whether you’ve been through it or are reading to better know how to support your friends, know that my heart is with you. I truly have been there, and I am very sorry for your loss.
No. That is never the case. I know people are trying to be supportive by imagining how much more painful this loss would have been had baby made it further along, but the truth is from the moment I found out I was pregnant, I was already imagining my child through every stage of her life…even as far as believe in my heart that she was a girl. Her name would have been Emma Elizabeth and even if I’d lost her the day after I found out I was pregnant, it would have been too soon.
Instead…ask your loved one about the child they were carrying. Maybe they didn’t think much about it yet, or maybe…like me…they want people to know how amazing their child would have been.
2. It wasn’t your time.
That does not help even a little bit. All that does is offer in questions of fate and religion and the great beyond. All I wanted was a chance to curl my arms around the beautiful orange teddy bear I bought for Emma and cry about all the things I wouldn’t ever be able to say to her. Thinking about universal truths or a grand plan only made me feel bitter and angry about the baby I never got to hold. The truth was, I needed to go through the five stages of grief, and telling me it wasn’t my time was like skipping four of them and going straight to the pretty end.
Instead…be present with your loved one with whatever stage of grief they are in. If they are angry, be angry. If they are bargaining, listen to it. Eventually they will reach a state of acceptance and they will be so thankful that you helped them through those stages.
3. It wasn’t meant to be.
This is another one that hurt like hell. You would never tell a grieving parent who lost a breathing child that it wasn’t meant to be. Nooooo. Telling a woman who miscarried a baby that that baby wasn’t meant to be takes away every single dream, hope, plan, and even that little bit of time she actually had with that child. This isn’t a debate about the moment of humanhood or anything like that…if a woman miscarries a child and is upset about it then in her mind that child already WAS. No wasn’t meant to be about it because that child was fully alive in her mind.
Instead…keep it simple. I’m sorry for your loss. That really is enough.
This one hurts my teeth. Losing a baby isn’t like getting a bad score on the LSAT. Before ever even beginning to think about trying again or future pregnancies or adoption or anything else, women who have miscarried have to make it through the loss of this child. This one. My Emma was my world though I never met her and I would have laid down my life in exchange for hers. Keep trying? Not an appropriate question.
Instead…ask your friend or loved one if there is anything they want to do in memory of the baby they lost. Let them lead the discussion.
5. So when will you go back to work?
Even the most well meaning friends asked me when I’d go back to work. I was lucky, my boss told me to take all the time I need, but because miscarriage isn’t an illness some people forget that grieving takes time. My child was a part of me from the moment those lines turned blue; her death felt like a part of me died.
Instead…ask your friend or loved one if they’ll need any financial help while they are grieving. Are there any bills that need to be paid, or phone calls that need to be made. What can you do to make this time of grieving less hard for them?
When anyone loses a child I think we all struggle with what to say to them. We want to be supportive, but not pry. Loving, but not smothering. The biggest thing to remember about anyone who has a miscarriage is that they did indeed lose a child. Love them. Listen to them. Give them your support. If you’re able to do those three things you will make it easier for them to grieve. And if you can’t figure out what to say, then don’t say anything. Sit with them. Hold their hand, if they’ll let you. Hug them when they ask. Being there for someone who has miscarried will mean more to them then words could ever express.