Why opening up about miscarriage matters
After my third miscarriage, several women told me about their own experiences in hushed tones. But nobody speaks openly about these things.
What is a miscarriage and how common are they?
Ssssh. Don’t mention it. Miscarriages are often talked about in hushed tones – if at all! – but are surprisingly common, affecting one in four (!) pregnancies.
Technically, a miscarriage is when an embryo or foetus doesn’t survive in the uterus in the first 23 weeks of pregnancy. The majority of miscarriages can’t be prevented. But if you’re eating well, avoiding drugs and smoking, you’re already doing a lot to reduce the risk . The cause isn’t usually known, although it’s often thought to be due to abnormal chromosomes (genetic building blocks) .
Let’s start talking about miscarriage
When you go through a miscarriage, you (and your partner!) often go through a range of emotions. As one woman told our #wombstories project, it can feel like “your future as you know it has been lost”. You might feel grief for the child you never knew. You might feel guilty as if you’d done something wrong. You might even ask yourselves: ‘Am I not worthy of having a child?’
Some of the emotions you have are more unexpected than others. As one woman explained, “I actually felt quite angry. Not just with myself, but with all the other mothers who seemed to have got everything they’d ever wanted.”
These emotions are incredibly common, but because nobody talks about it, we tend to think we are all alone - especially now, with so many of us stuck at home, away from our loved ones. If we, as a society, instead open up about miscarriage, we can learn from and support each other through the sadness and loss.
Have you been affected by miscarriage? Help us break the silence by sharing your experience at #wombstories.
Signs of miscarriage – how do I know if it’s happening to me?
The main symptom of a miscarriage is bleeding from the vagina, usually together with abdominal pain.
If you experience vaginal bleeding and you think it might be a miscarriage, it’s always best to contact your doctor or midwife, or go to your local A&E, if you’re able to. They will carry out an examination (or an online consultation) and give you the support you need.
Keep in mind, some light bleeding is common during the first three months of pregnancy.
Dealing with miscarriage
First of all, there’s no right or wrong way to deal with a miscarriage. Each woman’s experience is unique and each coping mechanism is different. Some women prefer to rest and take some time to consider what’s happened. Others prefer to carry on like normal, to take their mind off it.
However you react, it’s important to remember that you haven’t done anything wrong. There’s no reason to feel guilty or ashamed. Talking to people close to you can help – you might be surprised at how many women have been through the same experience – so don’t be afraid of reaching out.
Whatever you feel, you don’t have to go through it alone. Support is available through the charity Tommy’s for women and their families no matter what stage of their pregnancy journey and you can find more information on the NHS website.