“10-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage”
Pregnancy loss is something that happens to so many women, but it is probably one of the least talked about parts of pregnancy. According to statistics from BabyCenter.com, “10-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and more than 80% of these losses happen before 12 weeks.” It is likely that most women of childbearing age will experience at least one miscarriage in their lifetime. The feelings of grief and powerlessness associated with such an experience can be compounded by the fact that many times, the cause for miscarriage remains unknown.
Recently hearing from a friend about her loss reminded me of my own experiences with pregnancy loss. I have had the misfortune of having two miscarriages in my lifetime and both times were devastating emotionally and physically. Was it something I did wrong? Am I being punished? Why is this happening to me? The sense of shame and guilt for being less than a woman for not being able to carry my baby was overwhelming. Of course the rational mind tells you that none of these things are true, but the mind of a woman experiencing a loss is not rational.
“Everything happens for a reason”
The other part of the equation that was equally detrimental were the ridiculous things people would say to me once I found the courage to even talk about it! Things like: “Everything happens for a reason.” “You’ll have another baby.” “Maybe it’s better this way; something was probably wrong with him/her.” And my all time favorite, “You weren’t even that pregnant!” Um, okay. What is a little bit pregnant? If you have ever uttered these things to a woman experiencing loss, they do not help and often times make things worse. Sorry, it’s the truth. If you ever said any of them to me, don’t worry, I forgive you! Believe me, I have gone through the experience myself and still find myself at a loss for the most appropriate thing to say sometimes.
“Don’t try to fix it”
Over the years I’ve found that one of the best ways to cope with miscarriage is simply going through the mourning process with no regrets and honoring the pregnancy for what it truly is: a miracle. Find a pregnancy loss support group, either on-line or with a face to face meet up. Have a little burial/memorial service, with or without remains. Make a little keepsake charm to keep on a bracelet or necklace representing your baby. Plant a beautiful flower or tree in remembrance. Do whatever it takes for you to heal unapologetically.
If you are a friend or family member showing support, know that you probably won’t say the right thing; but more important than what you say is what you do. Be a shoulder to cry on or a sympathetic ear. Be the one to give a few moments of relief by bringing a meal for the family, watching the other kids for a few hours or straightening up a bit while she rests. Let the woman be your guide in showing you what she needs to heal. Lastly, don’t try to fix it. There is nothing you can do or say to make everything 100% better. Sometimes in life you just have to go through it to get through it!
Pregnancy loss can feel like you are on the darkest, loneliest road imaginable, but know that you do not have to travel it alone and there is light at the end.
Note: All women experience loss differently. This is the author’s commentary on a personal experience.
For help in navigating through the myriad of decisions involved in birth, please feel free to contact me at A Beautiful Creation Doula! Visit my website at www.abeautifulcreationdoula.com
Jennifer Rivera, owner of A Beautiful Creation Doula, is a birth doula and consultant serving the Greater Atlanta area.