Of all the challenges that pregnant women face, perhaps none is as emotionally devastating as the loss of a pregnancy through miscarriage, also known as spontaneous abortion. The fear of miscarriage is a common concern among expectant mothers, especially during the first trimester, when the risk is highest. Despite being a relatively common occurrence, spontaneous abortion is still shrouded in myths and misconceptions, which can add to the anxiety and grief that women experience when it happens. Let’s talk about the debunked myths, separating fact from fiction, and hopefully providing some reassurance to those who have suffered this loss and those living in fear of it.
Myth 1: It’s rare
It is not. It is estimated that 26% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. This silence around it makes people feel alone and ashamed that they are not able to do what other women so easily do every single day. This loneliness further compounds the devastation people suffer when this is so common an occurrence.
Myth 2: It’s completely preventable
Miscarriages are not completely preventable. The most common cause of spontaneous abortion is chromosomal abnormalities. This is something you have no control over. Suggesting that women can prevent spontaneous abortion through their choices only leads to shame and guilt. Related to this is the myth that feeling stressed and exercising heavily or drinking too much coffee can cause miscarriage or even prior birth control use. This is not true. All this does is blame the person who is already suffering a loss. Other potential causes of miscarriage include:
- Abnormal uterine structure
- Congenital anomalies
- Maternal diseases like diabetes, being prone to blood clots and infections
- Unexplained cause
What you can do to reduce your chances of suffering a spontaneous abortion is avoid cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, and injury to your belly. If you have hypothyroidism or diabetes, you should speak to your doctor and manage that. An interesting fact about smoking, smoking more than 10 cigarettes per day is associated with an increased risk of pregnancy loss even if it’s the father who smokes.
Myth 3: Having one means you’re likely to have another
Suffering a miscarriage does not increase your likelihood of having a second. Approximately 99% of women who have miscarriages go n to give birth to healthy babies later. Your risk increases after you’ve had two or more spontaneous abortions. If you’ve had two or more, you should consult a fertility specialist.
Myth 4: Spotting or vaginal bleeding means miscarriage
Vaginal bleeding is incredibly common in the first trimester occurring in 20-0% of pregnant women. Even heavy, prolonged bleeding can happen during a healthy pregnancy. Vaginal bleeding can be a sign of spontaneous abortion but should include other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and a fever of 38 degrees Celsius or 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. If there’s anything solid or tissue coming out accompanied by foul-smelling vaginal fluid, you should immediately consult your OBGYN.
Myth 5: Not the same as losing a child
A miscarriage is a huge, life-altering loss and should be treated as such. The grief of the lost future, plus losing this baby you were already bonding with and connected to is devastating. Anyone who suffers it needs support, the same support you would offer any grieving person. One study found that 75% of women who suffered a miscarriage did not get the support they needed from family and friends. Seek out help if you’re feeling overwhelmed after the loss.
Myth 6: You have to wait 3 months to try again
One common myth is that women should wait 3 months after a miscarriage before trying again. Doctors could recommend waiting longer if the woman got a suction D&C (dilation and curettage) procedure after the spontaneous abortion. Otherwise, you can conceive as little as 1 month after a miscarriage and still have a healthy pregnancy.
Myth 7: Having sex can cause it
Having sex cannot cause a miscarriage. During intercourse, the uterus is never entered. Unless you have some kind of complication and your doctor has recommended pelvic rest, go have fun.
Pregnancy: 8 Causes Of A Miscarriage
Life Like A Lady Part 6: Miscarriage
What Not To Say To A Parent Who Has Had A Miscarriage Or Lost A Child
6 Ways To Cope With Pregnancy Paranoia