As many expecting mothers do not announce a new pregnancy until the beginning of the second trimester, many women are forced to experience the rollercoaster of emotions of early pregnancy alone. If a woman experiences a miscarriage during this time, it leaves her with even more lonely thoughts and strong emotions. She has yet to announce her pregnancy, and now she has to grieve it.
On the flip side, if expecting parents do reveal their pregnancy and suffer a miscarriage, they have the added stress of telling friends and family what happened. Miscarriages are one of those situations that make a woman say "darned if you do, darned if you don't."
A miscarriage is one of the hardest things a woman has to endure - emotionally and even physically. Suffering a miscarriage can leave a woman feeling sad, angry, and even guilty. She may question if she was at fault, or she may just feel totally numb. Unfortunately, miscarries are very common for women and expecting parents. Society tends to keep hush-hush on the topic. However, we feel it is important for women to know these 15 facts on miscarriages and 5 places they can go for support.
20 You Are NOT Alone
Let's make one thing clear, no one likes to wish suffering on another person, but a grieving mother should know that she is not alone. If a grieving mother is aware of this, it can help alleviate some of her pain. It is helpful for a grieving mother to know that there are other women who are grieving, or who have grieved. This helps her to know that if someone else was able to survive a miscarriage, so can she. It's the type of situation and knowledge that will give her strength when she needs it most.
In fact, experts estimate that almost one million miscarriages occur each year. Mayo Clinic estimates that about 20% of confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage, and most of those occur in the first few weeks of pregnancy. The March of Dimes goes as far to estimate that nearly half of all pregnancies end in miscarriage - although many of these miscarriages happen before a woman even misses her expected period.
19 Keep Calm And Don't Stress
It's not surprising that women who suffer a miscarriage start to look for clues as to why she suffered the loss. Sometimes, it's easy to find an explanation than to live with an unknown explanation. Many women have heard the false rumor that stress can induce a miscarriage. In fact, a study revealed that 76% of women believe stress can cause miscarriages. But the reality is, who isn't stressed when they're pregnant? This mindset could easily trap women into feeling guilty over a miscarriage.
However, a study debunked this rumor: stress does not induce miscarriages. This is wonderful news, as it releases moms from the guilt of thinking that her mountain of paperwork might have had something to do with her miscarriage. Although this doesn't give an explanation for every miscarriage, it is nice to know that being stressed at work or home didn't affect her miscarriage.
18 Don't Blame The Gym
Another popular rumor is the notion that too much exercise can cause a miscarriage. While intense training and exercise can cause a woman to temporarily miss out on her monthly cycles, exercise itself does not cause miscarriages.
In fact, exercise (as long as your OB/GYN clears you for exercise) can help improve the health of your pregnancy. Moms need to make sure she consults with her OB/GYN about exercise and the intensity of her gym routine. Exercise during pregnancy can actually lower miscarriage risk, reduce stress, reduce aches, lower gestational diabetes risk and reduce labor pains. The exception: if you are experiencing certain medical conditions like placenta previa, exercise can cause problems.
However, physical exercise does not trigger spontaneous miscarriages. This is good news for all women. Expecting mothers no longer have to feel guilty for training for a 5K or hitting the gym after work, before realizing they were suffering from a miscarriage.
17 For Support: When In Doubt, Head To Facebook
Facebook can be one of the best places to head post-miscarriage. And we're not talking about just chit-chatting with friends and snooping on old boyfriends; we are talking about honest-to-goodness support groups from women who have been there - and are currently there.
The nice thing about these groups is that a woman can find support from other women all over the country, from the comfort of her own home. She doesn't need to go out and drive to a support group meeting; she can simply have access to a network of women 24/7/365. And to make the Facebook support groups even better, she can find groups to fit her specific needs. Some support groups are specific to miscarriages of multiples, repeat miscarriages, women with similar religious beliefs, or miscarriages due to certain medical conditions.
16 So, What Really Happened?
If recent surveys show that stress levels do not cause miscarriages, nor does too much exercise, then what does cause a miscarriage to happen? Women want to know the causes because it's easier to handle the truth than to be left without answers.
The American College of Gynecology estimates that nearly 60% of miscarries are caused by chromosomal anomalies. A chromosomal anomaly means that something went wrong as the baby was growing, and it could not have survived gestation, birth, or life outside the womb. Chromosomal anomalies are not caused by something a woman does or doesn't do. These are simply things out of a mother's control.
It's not always pleasant to think of something going wrong with an angel baby, but at least couples are comforted by the fact it was something just out of their control. They were not to blame.
15 Keeping An Extra Eye On Those AMA Moms
Unfortunately, the risk of miscarriages is not the same for women of all ages. As women age, their risk of miscarriages goes up. Experts agree that over 33% of confirmed pregnancies in older moms end in miscarriage. Many older women may have a miscarriage and not even realize it if the miscarriage occurs before a missed period.
Moms aged 40 and up experience more miscarriages because of higher rates of chromosomal anomalies. This is part of the reason why patients labeled AMA, advanced maternal age, are monitored so closely.
The good news? If you are over 35 and struggling to maintain a pregnancy, doctors are usually speedy about conducting testing to help rule out issues. However, women under 35 typically have to wait longer before an OB will plan for more in-depth testing.
14 The Good News Is...
Despite the estimated one million miscarriages that occur each year, not all of those women are fated to experience repeat miscarriages. In fact, of those one million women, only 1% of women experience multiple and repeated miscarriages. In their own time, women will successfully go on to have their "rainbow babies." Rainbow babies are babies born following a miscarriage.
More good news: While repeat miscarriages are never easy, doctors do tend to work diligently with any of their patients who experience multiple miscarriages. Often, women undergo a series of tests to rule out disorders and/or hormone issues. Through this series of testing, doctors can often find a solution that allows a woman to carry a baby to term. Sometimes, the solution is a suture on the cervix, while other times repeated miscarriages can be prevented with hormone supplements.
13 For Support: Crisis Help Line
While a Facebook support group may be wonderful, she may have more intense feelings than an average individual on Facebook can deal with. After all, the women in those groups are also going through emotional times as well. If she needs the help of a professional and needs to actually speak with a human being, she can call the Crisis Help Line. There's no need to wait for someone to reply to your post on Facebook; help is just a phone call away.
They promise to help with any kind of crisis. She may have big feelings, and she may feel out of control with grief. She doesn't need to suffer in silence; she can call this hotline.
If you, or a loved one, could benefit from the Crisis Hot Line, call 1-800-233-4357.
12 The Sound Of A Beating Drum
Remember that many miscarriages often occur without the woman knowing she was ever pregnant. Her period may seem just a little heavier than normal, or she might not even notice a difference at all. The closer a woman gets to the second trimester, the lower her risk of miscarriage becomes.
Those first few weeks can be really nerve-wracking, especially when women might not even "feel" pregnant. However, once a heartbeat is heard, the chance of miscarriage drops to 4% or less. For women who have had a miscarriage in the past, hearing their rainbow baby's heartbeat can provide great comfort and solace. If you've had a previous miscarriage and are currently pregnant, create a countdown calendar until your doctor's appointment; this can help you look forward to the event.
11 You Might Miss It ... Or Not
Another myth surrounding miscarriages is that all women know when they are having a miscarriage. Women might think that all miscarriages are immediately diagnosed by first trimester bleeding. However, not all bleeding is caused by a miscarriage. Second, miscarriages can be missed. Huh? What is a missed miscarriage?
A missed miscarriage is a miscarriage that has occurred but symptoms have not yet appeared. This type of miscarriage is usually discovered via ultrasound when the fetus size does not match up with mom's due date.
The biggest lesson here is: women who experience missed miscarriages must not feel guilty. There is no way to tell if you've experienced a missed miscarriage without the technology of an ultrasound. The good news is that once diagnosed, doctors can help women create a plan of action for this type of circumstance.
10 You Have Options
Whether a woman had a missed miscarriage or she was rushed to the ER due to heavy bleeding and cramping, she has medical options to help her through the process. Post-miscarriage options include: going natural, D&C, and Cytotec.
The natural option is a viable choice for women whose bodies are already at work doing what needs to be done to get back on track. A D&C is helpful for moms who have continued bleeding due to the retained placenta or other materials. This procedure cleans the uterus of all foreign materials and helps to stop excessive or continued bleeding. Cytotec can be prescribed for moms with missed miscarriages whose bodies have not yet begun the miscarriage process; this is helpful in preventing infections.
Often an OB/GYN will let women choose their course of action, unless, of course, medical necessity dictates that the OB performs a procedure to prevent excessive bleeding or infections.
9 For Support: Center For Loss In Multiple Birth
Earlier, we discussed that it is possible to lose just one twin. It is common to feel a rollercoaster of emotions between sadness for the loss and joy for the twin who survived. If a mom's feelings continue to grow in intensity, she can head to the Center for Loss in Multiple Birth. The Center for Loss in Multiple Birth is location-based, and in this case, the center is in Anchorage, Alaska.
This group draws bereaved parents from multiple counties including the United States, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. The center works hard to connect parents, create contact lists, and provide continual information and support to parents through newsletters.
8 Feelings Are Good
As all pregnancies are different, all miscarriages are different as well. However, regardless of how the miscarriage unfolded, a woman is sure to experience a range of emotions including sadness, anger, rage, guilt, and even despair.
It's important to know that it is absolutely 100% okay to express those feelings and to allow her body to grieve. She may even feel guilty (such as if the pregnancy was a surprise), and that's okay too. Working through those emotions is always better than ignoring feelings she may have.
Here's another fact: men can also grieve intensely over a miscarriage. Mom, don't forget to check in with your partner during the grieving process as well. It may not be easy to talk about at first, but sharing feelings together can be beneficial to both of you.
7 Cut Back On Your Morning Java
Oh, coffee! The debate on coffee and pregnancy seems to be never-ending. However, studies are clear that women need to cut back on caffeine during pregnancy. While most experts agree that 200mg or less is safe during pregnancy, they also seem to agree that too much caffeine can cause miscarriages. But how much is too much?
While it's unlikely that a daily cup of coffee caused a miscarriage, the 200 mg warning seems to be a safe number to stay under. Caffeine has been linked to miscarriages, low birth weight, and increased heart rate in fetuses. Wondering how much 200 mg of caffeine really is? One Red Bull has 111 mg, and a cup of coffee has about 95mg. Don't blame yourself though. Some experts maintain that drinking more than 200mg doesn't automatically cause a miscarriage - it just increases the risk.
6 Undiagnosed Causes
Women who experience miscarriages can opt for tests to help determine the causes of miscarriages. One thing that doctors look for, during that series of testing, is the presence of certain disorders. Some disorders can cause miscarriages, especially disorders that involve blood clotting.
Unmanaged disorders, meaning mom already knows she has a disorder but it's not fully managed or controlled, can also increase the risk of miscarriages. For instance, a woman with improperly managed diabetes may have more risks for miscarriages than a diabetic who has controlled diabetes.
If there are any disorders an expecting mother has, including any blood disorder, thyroid disorders, hormonal disorders, speak with your doctor about managing the disorder before trying for another pregnancy. Sometimes (and thankfully), the risks of miscarriage go down once the condition is resolved or controlled.
5 For Support: The C.O.P.E. Foundation
The next source of support is, again, a location-based center, but this center is a little more accessible from those living in the continental United States. C.O.P.E., which stands for Connecting Our Paths Eternally, is a foundation based in Long Island, New York.
The group aims to help couples and their families cope with living their lives after the loss of a pregnancy or child. The C.O.P.E. Foundation also provides a monthly newsletter, but they shine as a support group due to the C.O.P.E. Hotline. Calling the C.O.P.E. hotline allows grieving parents to speak with volunteers (all volunteers are trained by a psychologist) who provide not only emotional support but also resources and referrals. These hotlines and resources can be wonderful for grieving parents who don't know where to turn after a miscarriage.
4 Some Miscarriages Can Be Prevented
Once a mother knows that unmanaged disorders can cause miscarriages, she can see the silver lining: some miscarriages can be prevented. One of the most common causes of first trimester miscarriages is low progesterone. Progesterone is a hormone that is needed to sustain a pregnancy; it basically tells your body, "Hey, we are pregnant. Keep that uterus nice for the baby, and don't start a period."
In moms with low progesterone, miscarriage can be avoided if the hormone levels are caught early (usually done with a blood test as soon as mom notifies the OB of a positive pregnancy test.) Progesterone supplements are usually prescribed until the 2nd trimester when the placenta takes over progesterone production.
While this news may not help if a woman has already had a miscarriage, it can absolutely give her hope and information to aid her future pregnancies.
3 Twins And Multiples
Many miscarriage discussions focus on singleton pregnancies, but twin pregnancies (and especially multiples of three or more) are susceptible to miscarriages. The interesting fact about multiple pregnancies and miscarriages is that it's possible to miscarry only one baby, and then go on to carry the other baby to term.
If a woman finds herself in this situation, she may be overcome with a large range of emotions. Loss of one baby, and excitement for the other. Her OB will be able to answer questions she may have in regards to the process of miscarrying only one twin. But once the shock wears away, she may want to find a way to honor the baby she lost. Some moms do so by giving the miscarried twin's name, to the surviving twin, as a middle name.
2 It's Ladies' Night!
On any given bottle of alcohol, you won't miss the warning from the Surgeon General: alcohol and pregnancy do not mix. It is clearly a cause of birth defects, fetal alcohol syndrome, and risk of miscarriage.
But what about the few drinks a mom had before she realized she was pregnant? Maybe the mother-to-be attended a bachelorette party, a holiday or even she ended her day with a nice glass of red wine. While excessive alcohol is never stellar for a pregnancy, most doctors say that a few drinks before the pregnancy test turned positive aren't cause for alarm. Unless she drank to the point of alcohol poisoning (ahem, which she shouldn't do regardless), it is unlikely that her Mint Mojito or nightly glass of red wine caused the miscarriage.
Tip: If a woman has experienced a miscarriage in the past and are trying again, it wouldn't hurt to avoid alcohol (or coffee while she's at it) during the "two-week window" of ovulation.
1 For Support: Remember Our Babies
Perhaps you've seen many women change their profile pictures on Facebook, in October, to a picture of a candle. Perhaps you've noticed the increase in miscarriage awareness posts on Facebook. Remembering Our Babies is a foundation that works hard to honor October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
Side fact: Ronald Regan instituted October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
Beyond spreading awareness, this organization also aims to serve women who have suffered miscarriages and infant loss. They are happy to create lists of walks and other activities that promote awareness. Sometimes, the best thing after a miscarriage is to do something to honor the life of your baby - no matter how long or short it was. Connecting with other women on these remembrance walks is a great way to find support while honoring the life of the baby you lost.
References: huffingtonpost.com, livescience.com, parents.com