Breaking through the stigma of miscarriage.
As many as 75% of all pregnancies result in a miscarriage before the woman knows she is pregnant. Once the woman has tested positive on a pregnancy test, there is still a one in five chance of an early miscarriage. Later in the pregnancy, while quite uncommon, miscarriage still occurs about 1% of the time though, for some women, it may repeatedly occur.
With something that is this common, one would think that there should be abundant resources available and lots of people talking about it.
But, they’re not… Actually, there’s a strange cloak of silence that hangs over miscarriage which creates an odd mix of superstition, folklore and myth surrounding the subject — and huge numbers of women, in their shame or guilt, avoiding help and quietly blaming themselves.
A study released earlier this month by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and Montefiore Health System assessed just how bleak those false belief systems are:
22% believed lifestyle choices had caused the miscarriage (Most are simple genetic problems in the child.)
76% of people believe stress can cause miscarriage with 21% even blaming a simple argument.
64% believed it could be caused by lifting something heavy.
Many people also blamed contraception with 41% blaming IUD’s and 28% blaming oral contraceptives for the miscarriage.
Each of the above has been completely disproven as a cause for miscarriage – by multiple studies.
But, none of that in any way minimizes the suffering these women and their partners felt in that strange culture of superstition, folklore and myth that seems to blame women for their own pain.
47% of parents suffering a miscarriage felt guilty about it with 41% blaming themselves. 28% went all the way to feeling shame and 41% reported feeling utterly alone in the experience. Almost 88% were desperate to just be told what caused the miscarriage – likely so they could defend themselves against that culture of blame.
The pain of loosing a child alone is bad enough. Even those who have never experienced miscarriage intuitively understand that it can be just as painful as loosing a child after that child is born. But, pain plus shame and guilt is almost unfathomably powerful.
It’s not that the emotions hold all that much power in themselves. What gives them power is that they have the ability to cause people to hide and attempt to deal with their problems alone. When we try to deal with any problem (much less a problem as extreme as grief resulting from a miscarriage) alone, it very easily overwhelms us.
The answer is pretty simple though:
It usually only takes two to three sessions of grief counselling for miscarriage to get all of the false beliefs on the table, to adopt a completely different set of beliefs and equip most people with all the skills they need to continue the grieving process on their own and completely deal with the miscarriage they have experienced.
As long as you break the silence…