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We Need to Talk About Miscarriages

First things first—it's not your fault.

We Need to Talk About Miscarriages

Societally, conversations about miscarriages are taboo, uncomfortable, insensitive, inappropriate and/or private. But why? And who does that help?? Any topics spotlighting the female body and its functions, including miscarriages, are reserved for cold, fluorescently-lit rooms. It’s time we change that. 

Miscarriages are lost pregnancies where the embryo is unable to develop; they happen within the first 13 to 20 weeks of pregnancy and are more common than you think. Talking about miscarriage is how we share the experience and support one another. It doesn’t make the experience any less difficult, but it does help avoid feelings of isolation, as well as prepare more people for the possibility.

"Miscarriage is incredibly common. As many as 1 in 3 pregnancies end with an early loss, but silence surrounds the topic. It’s taboo. Nobody talks about the messy parts or the painful details. Very little of the healing process can be done in isolation."

- Dr. Tyler Lloyd, OBGYN

Let’s make space for the conversation—talking about it is how we heal and relate to one another. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 10 in 100 pregnancies end in miscarriage within the first 13 weeks. So what happens when we experience miscarriage, and why does it happen? What does recovery look like, and are there risks? While you can’t always know if you’re at risk, the symptoms of a miscarriage are important to know for anyone pregnant or trying to conceive. 

Why Miscarriages Happen—It’s Not Your Fault

Because many miscarriages happen so early in pregnancy, sometimes, before you might know you’re pregnant, the actual number is unknown. A sperm and egg each contain a set of 23 chromosomes from each parent, totaling 46 needed for development. Sometimes, chromosome transfer errors happen when those two meet and begin the fertilization process. 

If there are too many, or too few chromosomes, the embryo won’t develop. It’s like getting an incomplete set of plans. The body then rejects the collection of tissues, which is why you may experience symptoms. Not all miscarriages have symptoms, so if something feels different, it’s best to seek a professional medical opinion. 

Symptoms of miscarriage include: 

  • Cramping can be severe or light and happens in the lower pelvic area.
  • Bleeding or spotting, ranging from brown to red. Note: this commonly occurs during pregnancy and may not be a sign of miscarriage
  • Reduced pregnancy symptoms (like breast sensitivity or nausea). 
  • Tissue or fluid discharge from the vagina.

Most miscarriages happen within the first 13 weeks, but some happen during the first and second trimesters. When miscarriage occurs outside of this period, it could mean there are issues with the placenta or an underlying health condition. None of the reasons for miscarriage are because of something you ate or an activity you did. Be gentle with yourself and understand that sometimes, these things just happen. 

Risks of Miscarriage & How to Prevent Them

There are, however, some things that can put you at risk for underlying health conditions that can impact a developing fetus. These factors can also increase risk for other long-term health conditions, including obesity, diabetes if uncontrolled, smoking, drug use, alcohol consumption, and high caffeine intake. When trying to conceive, age can affect your likelihood of miscarriage, with 2 in 10 pregnancies ending in miscarriage for women aged 35 and above. 

An important thing to really understand is that the rumors about causes of miscarriage—like exercising or having sex, flying, or eating mangoes—are myths. It’s easy to look for a reason when we experience something traumatic, and often, uninformed people assume these as truths. Let’s share medically relevant information and make sure you talk to your doctor if you think you might be at risk—most doctors will tell you that there are ways to manage illnesses to help reduce the risk of miscarriage with a healthy pregnancy. Preparation is key when you’re ready to conceive, and if you experience a miscarriage, it is extremely possible to try again and conceive without issue.

Recovery & Support After Miscarriage

Your body needs time to recover from miscarriage, which usually takes between four to eight weeks. During this time, it’s best to avoid sex and strenuous activity. Following a miscarriage, give yourself time to talk through it with your partner and anyone you feel most comfortable with—no one should ever have to go through this on their own. If you prefer one-on-one counseling, there are many virtual sessions available, so make sure to check your insurance benefits. Because this is a significant loss, you can take time off of work to recover emotionally—it’s quite literally the law

There are also ways to honor the loss, if that feels good. A certificate of loss can be obtained through records offices. Many parents look into private burial or naming ceremonies. Working through the loss of a pregnancy is so worth the time and energy, and can help you and your partner heal. Remember that you are not alone, and whether you know it or not, you likely know someone who has gone through the same experience. Talking about it can genuinely help. 

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