For as long as I researched and educated myself about Miscarriages, it has come to my attention that it goes hand in hand with silence, stigma, and shame. These three concepts are responsible for so many of the very many challenges pregnant women face when it comes to pregnancy and infant loss. They work in concert at nearly all times, obstructing conversations and connections around this all too common topic, and isolating those who experience it.
According to Mayo clinic, miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week. About 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. But the actual number is likely higher because many miscarriages occur so early in pregnancy that a woman doesn’t realise she’s pregnant.
Now, what happens to the 10 to 20 percent known early pregnancy losses?
In most cases, silent grief. Why grief silently when you just lost a baby? Well, because of comments like, “at least, you did not know him/her”, “God needed another flower in his garden” – since this is the only way we comfort these poor mothers. Our words are hurtful and dismissive of the poor parents’ feelings who are often unsure and sometimes blaming themselves for the loss. Some of us even go on giving unsolicited advice which results in insecurities and blame, but we never realize the damage we are making.
These responses often stem from the fact that we are never told hence never learning about early pregnancy loss. We can start the conversation by first educating ourselves the only way we do it today, the Internet. We can have our questions answered but also for mothers, they would realise they are not alone in this.
Our society has become much more open when it comes to talking about female reproductive health, but miscarriage still gets lost in the conversation, even though it’s incredibly common. It is typical for people to share stories about IVF, but people still do not talk about it if they have miscarried.
Advances in modern medicine have also been both helpful but leading to the growth of the stigma. We can now know we are pregnant sooner than ever: tests can catch a pregnancy days before a missed period, and at just six weeks. Advances in sonography and the introduction of 3-D ultrasounds magnify fetuses so they appear as large, and as fully formed, as infants and from then on a bond starts to build in so many. While the medical gains of these scientific developments cannot be understated, they have both expanded and complicated our collective reaction to pregnancy loss. Instead of being a medical necessity, a public-health concern, or a consequence of a past misdeed, miscarriage is now often associated with just one word: “grief.” And for the generations that come before us, grief was often considered a private emotion.
Silence is even found in medical recommendations. It is common practice in the medical community to suggest women wait to share their pregnancy news until they are “out of the woods.” In obstetric terms, that generally means waiting until after the first trimester, or around twelve weeks, when the likelihood of miscarriage is statistically lower and screenings that help determine the chance of a fetal abnormality have been conducted. Once the first trimester passes, the conventional wisdom goes, you’ve reached an ostensible safe zone, now it’s time to celebrate and let your baby bump show. When you begin to unpack the messaging of “wait until the second trimester,” the logic goes something like this: “Don’t share your good news until you are in the clear. This way, if your good news becomes bad news, then you won’t have to share your bad news.”
Already, this suggests that your miscarriage is not a story to be shared and it is best kept silent. The essence of conversation is lost hence stigma is built around women who do not carry their babies to term at least, vital term.
Telling our stories and raising awareness for the prevalence of miscarriage is one of the best ways to overcome these stigmas. In recent years, celebrities and public figures such as Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, Meghan Markle, and Chrissy Teigen, have opened up about their miscarriages and the isolating nature of pregnancy loss. By speaking out, they have started raising awareness for how common and unpredictable miscarriages can be.
Breaking the silence around this painful and difficult truth will make help us understand that miscarriages happen and will also urge our public health system to work towards reducing these situations. Remember What you refuse to confess, you will never conquer, and what you give voice to has the power to change your life.
I Had a Miscarriage: A Memoir, a Movement by Jessica Zucker. Used with the permission of the Feminist PresMiscarriag
Miscarriage – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pregnancy-loss-miscarriage/symptoms-causes/syc-20354298#:~:text=About%2010%20to%2020%20percent,doesn’t%20realize%20she’s%20pregnant
Breaking the Silence Around Miscarriage | Goop https://goop.com/wellness/sexual-health/breaking-the-silence-around-miscarriage/
Why Is There So Much Silence Around Miscarriage? | Vogue https://www.vogue.com/article/why-is-there-so-much-silence-around-miscarriage
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