October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. This annual hallmark is meant to provide time and space to honor those that have experienced such a loss.
A pregnancy loss due to spontaneous miscarriage is incredibly common. Yet despite being so common, miscarriage is often not talked about.
Instead, it is something that is marked by silence and secrecy. I will be sharing a series of blogs throughout the next few weeks with the goal of highlighting this common experience to hopefully be one more voice to help end the silence and stigma surrounding miscarriage.
- What exactly is a miscarriage? A miscarriage is a spontaneous loss of pregnancy that occurs within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.
- What causes a miscarriage? Not much is known about why miscarriages happen, however they are extremely common. Most studies indicate that 1 in 4 known pregnancies end in miscarriage. This percentage could be higher as it is hard to truly know how many miscarriages take place as they can also occur before a woman even knows she is pregnant. According to the Mayo Clinic, common risk factors for miscarriage include:
- Age (at age 35 the risk of miscarriage is 20% and the risk continues to increase as a woman ages)
- Previous miscarriage
- Chronic conditions (e.g. uncontrolled diabetes, thyroid condition)
- Uterine or cervical problems
- Smoking, heavy alcohol use or the use of illicit drugs
- Being overweight or underweight
If you have experienced a miscarriage, you will likely never know why. But it is important to know that it is not your fault, it could have happened to anyone and there was probably not anything you could have done to prevent it.
- What happens after? Physical recovery can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days. Emotional healing after a miscarriage often takes much longer than the physical. Many women experience emotions of anger, guilt and sadness. It is normal and okay to grieve. Miscarriage can also take a toll on one’s mental health. One study found that 29% of women experience PTSD after miscarriage, 24% experience anxiety and 11% are treated with moderate to severe depression.
In the next blog in this series, I will be taking a greater look at the emotional impact of miscarriage and what can be done to help cope with such a loss.
Written By: Rebekah Jones