It happened. You had a miscarriage. Despite the fact 1 in 4 pregnancies miscarry, the term is still whispered in social circles. In this article, I bring the pain of miscarriage out in the open by sharing the things I learned from my own experience.
I was 17 weeks when I had my final miscarriage. I didn't feel anything except for a little bit of weakness. But then I started bleeding — more and more. I was rushed to the Emergency Room, but it was too late — about three weeks too late.
I needed a blood transfusion, but the doctors decided against it. I spent the night tossing and turning in a room with a threadbare blanket and a night nurse who wouldn't give me medication. My husband had gone home to take care of the kids, and I was alone.
It took me months to recover from losing my unborn baby boy. But educating myself on the facts of miscarriage helped me to understand it wasn't my fault, and it happens more than we might realize.
Here are eight truths about miscarriage that shed light on the situation:
1. Approximately 25 percent of pregnancies end in a miscarriage
Around 1 in 4 women who become pregnant experience a miscarriage, the loss of a baby before 20 weeks gestation. Of those women, roughly half of them miscarry before they have even realized they were pregnant. Losing a baby so early on in a pregnancy is usually a sign your baby was not developing correctly and most likely had no chance of surviving to term.
2. Your lifestyle can affect your chances of miscarriage
Your physical health, before you become pregnant, affects your baby's development. Because the early stages of pregnancy are so critical to a fetus's development and it is impossible to know when the moment of conception occurs, it is best for you and your partner to cut out smoking, drinking and recreational drugs when you are trying to conceive to lower the chances of miscarrying or affecting your baby negatively.
3. The age of your partner can affect your chances of miscarrying
Most people know that the age of woman affects her chances of carrying a healthy baby to term. A woman under 35 years old has around a 15 percent chance of miscarrying but a woman over 45 can have up to a 50 percent chance of miscarrying. Not many people realize the age of your partner can affect your baby. In a study presented by Oxford Journals, it was found that if a woman was age 30 or older, then the age of her partner could affect the risk of miscarriage.
4. If you have had one miscarriage, then it will increase your chances for another
While it is possible to carry a baby to term after having a miscarriage, the chances of having another miscarriage will increase. A woman who has had a miscarriage in her past has a 25 percent increased chance of having another miscarriage.
5. Having a miscarriage is a process and not a single event
Miscarrying can be one of the most painful experiences of your life, both physically and emotionally, and unfortunately it is not over right away. Once a miscarriage has started it can take up to three weeks to naturally end the process. Some women opt to use medical procedures to hurry the process along. The emotional pain you experience can last a lifetime, but there are ways to help you through it.
6. Do not be afraid to turn towards others for support
A miscarriage is a traumatic event that you have the right to mourn. A woman who miscarries is a high risk of developing depression and anxiety. In times of loss, we need support. This is the time to turn to your friends and family. If you feel uncomfortable with reaching out to those close to you, try turning to a counselor, therapist, or miscarriage support group. Remember there is no right way to grieve, it is okay to process your loss however you need to.
7. Miscarriages affect men, too
Even though your husband may be hiding his signs of grief try to remember he is also experiencing a loss. Just like there is no right way for you to grieve, there is no right way for your husband to grieve either.
8. How to lower your chances of miscarriage
Miscarriages cannot always be prevented, but there are ways to lower your chances of miscarrying. By exercising regularly, eating healthy, managing your stress, maintaining a healthy weight, taking folic acid daily, and eliminating smoking, alcohol consumption, and recreational drug use you can increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy.
Yes, it is a difficult time, but that doesn't mean you must suffer in silence. By welcoming support from others who care, you will find comfort in the experience of others and find strength to move forward to a healthy and hopeful future.