Miscarriage Misconceptions Are Common—and Painful
But there are lots of misconceptions about miscarriages, too. And new research shows just how common those misconceptions are—and how they can actually make the experience even more traumatic for people who go through it.
According to the new study, published in the June print issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, more than half of the respondents erroneously thought miscarriage is a rare event. More than half said they thought that less than six percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. (Men were more than twice as likely to consider the event rare.)
The study included 1,000 adults, about half women and half men. Of those, about 15 percent reported that they or their partner had miscarried at least one time.
Many of those people, too, thought miscarriages could result from reasons that don't actually correspond in any way to the loss of a fetus. For instance, more than three quarters said they thought stress could cause miscarriage, and two thirds thought lifting heavy objects could cause the loss. (In reality, neither can.)
Interestingly too, nearly half of the women who have suffered a miscarriage, it turns out, have felt guilt and isolation about the experience, according to the research. Of the group, 41 percent said they felt they did something wrong that led to the miscarriage, and about a third said they felt they could have prevented what happened.
So it seems that all these misconceptions may be leading to some of the powerful bad feelings following miscarriage.
"A striking finding from the study is the discrepancy between what medicine and science teach us about miscarriage and what people believe," wrote the study's co-author Dr. Zev Williams, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center in New York. "Miscarriage seems to be unique in medicine in being very common yet rarely discussed, so that you have many women and couples feeling very isolated and alone."
But the survey also pointed to things that can help cope with loss. First, knowledge and education, as well as communication and honesty, help a lot with coping. And second, just having a better understanding of why miscarriage happens can really help.
"Finding a cause for a miscarriage, even if there was nothing that could have been done to prevent it, was found to be highly desirable by the respondents," Williams wrote. "Combining empathy with the rigor of scientific exploration could help lessen both the stigma and the incidence of miscarriage."
I think this is true not only for miscarriage, but for so many other concerns related to pre-conception, pregnancy, and the postpartum phase. I believe the more that we talk about our personal experiences, and the more we share truths with each other, the more comfortable we can all be through this wild journey. So that's what I try to do here on this blog whenever I can. Won't you join me in speaking honestly among your circle, too?
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