Miscarriage – a situation of pure heartbreak. Pregnant with a much-wanted baby, weeks spent hiding the constant nausea, growing breasts and overwhelming tiredness. Then in one devastating moment, more often than not for no apparent reason, the pregnancy suddenly ends. A missing heartbeat at your scan or a spot of blood in your underwear, maybe a nagging pain in your stomach. For many women, through the heartbreak, tears, guilt and the endless internal questions, the only option is to put on a brave face. To go into work like nothing has happened, to coo over a friend’s new baby with a smile. Whilst losing a friend or relative brings sympathy and understanding, losing a baby can bring a lonely silence.
There are no official government statistics held on women who miscarry, the figures that do exist only include women admitted to hospital; for women who go to their GP after a miscarriage, nothing is recorded. However it’s estimated that one in every four women will miscarry a baby (according to the miscarriage association). To put that into perspective that’s a quarter of all your female friends.
Given how many couples will experience a miscarriage why is it still considered such a taboo subject?
Baby books and doctors advise you don’t tell people you’re pregnant before your 12 week scan, just in case something bad happens. But that also implies that you’re not supposed to tell people that something bad did happen. It reinforces the idea that miscarriage is something that you should keep secret.
The guilt surrounding miscarriages also creates the feeling in some women that miscarriage is something to feel embarrassed about or ashamed of. We take it for granted that we will be able to do the most simple thing, and reproduce. Women who have miscarried feel imperfect, they feel malfunctioning. And because we live in an information age, we are used to getting answers. When women can’t find out what has caused the miscarriage the questions turn in on herself. The blame is all focused on what she did, or didn’t do.
Consequently many women blame themselves for everything they think they may have done wrong. Was it the three cocktails before you knew you were pregnant? Or the DIY you did the day before? Maybe your age could have played a part in your loss? But more often than not the sad truth is that there was nothing you could have done to prevent your loss.
I’ve always spoken openly about our miscarriages to friends and family, but not everyone knew how to handle the situation. Some would offer me a sympathetic smile, whilst some would shy away from the subject, admitting that they didn’t know what to say to me. The truth is though that I didn’t need them to say anything, I just simply needed them to listen.
Miscarriages are a part of who I am and it’s largely thanks to them that I’m the strong and determined woman that I am today. Don’t get me wrong, I’d go back in a heartbeat and change the outcome of my previous pregnancies if I could, but I can’t, and I’ve learnt to accept that. Talking so openly and honestly to friends and family is something that helped me to recover from each loss.
The only way to lift the secrecy surrounding the issue is to begin speaking more candidly, that way the research, sympathy and openness that miscarriage deserves will finally be granted.