Talking about miscarriage can still feel taboo, but it helps the healing process. We've asked and addressed the top 5 questions on the subject, so you don't have to.
When those two lines on your positive pregnancy test appear, your mind fills with questions. Will I experience morning sickness? Am I carrying a boy or a girl? Will the baby look just like me? But, for some, questions about the health of your child start creeping in and the possibility of losing your baby to miscarriage can become a real concern.
First of all, know that most pregnancies will continue on to produce healthy babies. But miscarriage is the most common pregnancy complication, with 10 to 25 percent of all clinically recognized pregnancies ending that way. When it comes to talking about it, however, the subject is still very taboo. Because of this, women who go through the ordeal can feel alone and unsure of where to turn.
Whether you've had a miscarriage or you have concerns, here are the answers to 5 common questions you might be afraid to ask.
Does spotting always mean miscarriage?
During pregnancy, women are advised to watch for any spotting or bleeding and while it can be a sign of a pending miscarriage, it's not always a certainty. "Not all bleeding in early pregnancy results in a miscarriage," says Teresa Dean Malcolm, M.D., OBGYN and practice lead at Banner Surprise Health Center in Surprise, Ariz. "Twenty to 30 percent of all pregnancies can experience some bleeding in early pregnancy with 50 percent of those resulting in normal pregnancies."
Will it happen again?
More than 85 percent of women who miscarry are able to get pregnant again and give birth to healthy babies, but the anxiety of it happening again can be a very real concern, so it's important to have coping strategies in place. "I work with my clients on self-calming techniques, mindfulness meditation, and writing down, and working through negative thoughts as a means to combat anxiety around this," says Allison Spinneweber, LCSW, and a licensed clinical social worker providing psychotherapy in Pittsburgh. "If we can learn to 'let go,' we actually have more control of our emotions and our quality of life, no matter what our circumstances."
Why do I feel so sad?
If miscarriage happens early in pregnancy, a common misconception is that it's not going to have a significant emotional impact. But, that is far from true for many women. "Miscarriage can be a great loss no matter when it occurs," Spinneweber notes. Hormonal changes that occur after a miscarriage can cause feelings similar to grief, such as a loss of appetite, frequent episodes of crying, and a lack of concentration, Malcolm adds. Because of this, recovering emotionally from a miscarriage can take longer than the physical recovery.
Should I talk about my loss?
Talking about miscarriage can help heal and educate others, Spinneweber says. "Miscarriage is such a hush-hush issue in our society, however, sharing with others about your loss not only provides you a place to process, but also normalizes miscarriage," she continues. She shares that in her experience, when women open up about their own loss, many other women will share their stories as well, which leads to more healing.
Was it my fault?
A recent survey published in the May issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that almost half of people who have experienced a miscarriage, or whose partner has had one, feel like it was their fault, unfairly so. "Women often blame themselves and the truth is, miscarriage is typically outside of their control," Malcolm says. "Blaming yourself for a loss is, number one, not true, and, number two, is causing yourself more pain than is necessary," Spinneweber adds.
"Of all the things women may go through, miscarriage may be one of the most poorly understood," Malcolm voices. The more we talk, ask questions, and educate, the more support and resources will be available for women and their partners. Opening the dialogue by sharing your own story or being open to hearing others can make a real difference in how women and their families are supported.