Miscarriage: Frequency, Cause, and Emotional Responses
Pregnancies are usually only announced after the 12th week of pregnancy. In this way, it can be avoided that in the case of a miscarriage in the first trimester, the miscarriage becomes public. Because if you miscarry after the pregnancy was announced, you would be forced to talk about what happened or you would be confronted with the emotions and opinions of other people. For example, some women who have experienced a miscarriage in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy find it a relief not to have announced the pregnancy. You do not have to talk to anyone about the fact that the expected child will not be born alive and you can mourn in silence. However, other women suffer from the silence and feel lonely. You want to exchange ideas with others and feel less alone.
Every third pregnancy ends in a miscarriage. Still, very few talk about it.
However, there is no doubt that the widespread practice of silence during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy often leads to a lack of talk about miscarriages and, as a result, to a limited knowledge about miscarriages in general. The lack of knowledge in turn creates breeding ground for myths and misconceptions about miscarriages, such as the misconception that miscarriages are rather rare. Women who experience miscarriage and believe that miscarriage is very rare can feel isolated, lonely, and socially alienated. Very few people know that a miscarriage is one of the most common complications of pregnancy. Every third pregnancy ends in a miscarriage. It can therefore help some women who have experienced a miscarriage to talk to others about what they have experienced. Counseling centers can also help to convey information and process what has been experienced.
70 percent of miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities and are not influenced by our lifestyle.
Another misconception holds that miscarriage is malleable and lifestyle dependent. In fact, 70 percent of miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities. Still, in a survey of 1,332 adult women in Europe conducted by AVA in September 2019, 71% of women incorrectly believed that "stress" can cause a miscarriage, 37% "intense exercise" and 35% "lifting heavy objects". The myth that miscarriage is influenced by our lifestyle and therefore the responsibility of the woman concerned can lead to feelings of guilt; in the survey mentioned above, almost half of the women (46%) blamed themselves.
How can feelings of guilt be dealt with?
guilt arise because you think you did something you shouldn't have done or didn't do something you should have done. If you're feeling guilty, it might help to remember that most miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities. There are many disruptive factors in the process of “ovulation, fertilization of the egg cell and implantation” and lifestyle has only a small influence. It might also help to remember about the frequency of miscarriages. Miscarriages are part of having children: Every woman is likely to experience more miscarriages in her lifetime than she gives birth to children alive. A miscarriage is therefore not a personal failure, but every good day of pregnancy is a success.
The emotional response to a miscarriage differs from woman to woman.
However, almost all women who have experienced a miscarriage grieve. Grief is a process that follows a loss and includes physical, emotional, behavioral, social, cultural, and philosophical dimensions. External circumstances such as a long-standing desire to have children, no living children, previous abortions, an advanced pregnancy and the social environment also influence how someone reacts to a miscarriage.
Personalized rituals can help to process the experience and assign meaning to the grief.
Just like the reaction to a miscarriage, the grieving process is different. For some, it helps to get back to normal quickly by distracting yourself with work and other activities. For others, this does not work and may lead to an increase in grief or a shift to other areas of life. For these women, the processing of grief is essential. Personalized rituals can help to process the experience and assign meaning to the grief. In Switzerland, for example, there is the option of certifying children born and deceased before the 22nd week of pregnancy. Such a confirmation can be requested at the civil registry office.
Here is an example of a mourning ritual from Japan:
Mizuko Kuyō (Water Child Memorial Ceremony) is a Buddhist ceremony practiced in Japan after miscarriage, stillbirth or abortion. Mizuko, literally water baby, is the Japanese word for a stillborn child, while Cuyo refers to a funeral ceremony.
existed in the past Mizuko Kuyō consists of making sacrifices to Jizō, a bodhisattva who stands for the well-being of children. Nowadays is Mizuko Kuyō a structured memorial ceremony that is customary by a Buddhist priest. As part of the ceremony, a jizo statue is placed in the temple garden. She is dressed in a red cloak and cap, and parents can decorate the statue with items belonging to the child.
Join the Mamatomo network and find a friend to chat with.
Sometimes it helps to share how other women have dealt with grief after a miscarriage. Did they perform rituals? What helped you process your emotions? Register here for free with the Mamatomo network and find a Mamatomo with whom you can share your experiences.
But no matter how a woman reacts to a miscarriage or how she processes it, a miscarriage is a drastic event that should not be underestimated. Sadness, anger, aggression, shame, guilt - these are all normal emotional responses to a miscarriage that can be overwhelming. Every woman has the right to support during this sensitive phase and no matter how you experience your miscarriage, what reactions you have to it or how you process your grief, it can do you good to talk about what you have experienced. Unfortunately, one in three women who have experienced a miscarriage report dissatisfaction with the care they receive from their doctor during and after the miscarriage. This is precisely why it makes sense for many to ask for psychological support. You don't have to go through this alone.
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Sometimes the miscarriage can be experienced as traumatic or result in a mental disorder. If the reaction to a miscarriage is prolonged and/or severely affecting your well-being, you should seek professional mental health care or psychotherapy as soon as possible.