1) Unless you are at the very beginning stages of your pregnancy, a miscarriage is not just a period or a blood clot. It’s labor and delivery. You have contractions and you deliver a child who is no longer alive — unless you get a D&C, which is a surgery under general anesthesia where doctors remove the baby for you. Recovery time for the surgery is longer and often scars the uterus, but some report it as being less traumatic than delivery because they don’t see their dead child in surgery. Some women have to endure both delivery of the baby and then D&C surgery to remove the placenta and other tissues left in the uterus (which they call “products of conception”). Heavy bleeding and cramping follows both a delivery and D&C, usually for about a week, but sometimes much longer.
2) Miscarriages aren’t just caused by bad falls and car accidents. They’re usually caused by too many chromosomes or some other genetic abnormality with the baby. They say 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage, but most do not talk about it.
3) The vast majority of women who have miscarriages will never receive answers to what went wrong. Doctors will say it’s something that “just happens.” The women will likely spend the rest of their lives blaming themselves.
4) A miscarriage will rob a woman of the excitement of her next (healthy) pregnancy. She will live in fear every single day for 9 months. She may not allow herself to get attached to the baby. The innocent joys of ultrasounds and other prenatal experiences for her will be wrought with fear and anxiety. She will likely wonder every single day if her baby’s heart is still beating.
5) It’s difficult to find a funeral home that will bury or cremate a miscarried baby. Many will cremate for free, but there usually won’t be enough ashes to save. If you deliver at the hospital, unless you ask them to release the baby to you, they discard it as medical waste. Many women don’t actually have their miscarried baby’s body, either because they had to have a D&C surgery (where the baby is pulled out in pieces), or because they passed the baby in the toilet and flushed (either on accident or because of the trauma or because the baby was too small for them to see). Women who do not get to see their baby’s body often feel grief from never getting to meet their child. Women who do see their baby’s body often feel traumatized by the sight of their dead child.
6) It is very common for women to suffer from postpartum depression and/or PTSD after a miscarriage. Many people don’t understand how incredibly painful it is for a woman to carry life inside her, only to experience death of that new life pass through her. She was connected to that child (or children) biologically, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s really an indescribable grief, and because so many people don’t understand the depths of the pain, it is extremely lonely.
For any questions, or to share your story, please feel free to comment. The more knowledge and awareness we have, the less stigma of miscarriage, and the less alone we will feel.