Looking for the Silver Lining: A Tear-Stained Glance at Pregnancy Loss
Keisha R. Callins, MD, MPH
The loss of a pregnancy at any stage (6 weeks, 16 weeks, or 6 months) can be a devastating emotional experience. While the two most common questions that women may ask are: “Why me”?, and “What did I do wrong”?, these are natural responses to a broken heart and an unexpected outcome. Therefore, it is also important to remember that the unfortunate experience of a pregnancy loss offers at least two advantages – confirming that you and your partner are capable of becoming pregnant, and can also provide helpful information for future pregnancy planning and management.
A loss may occur in 10–15% of known pregnancies. Pregnancy loss that occurs before 20 weeks is a miscarriage. An early loss may also occur as an ectopic (pregnancy in an area outside of the uterus such as the fallopian tube). Pregnancy loss that occurs after 20 weeks is a stillbirth. In some cases, a baby may be born too early and may not survive. Although the exact cause may truly be unknown or hard to identify, losses may be related to the fetus (abnormal chromosomes, fetal growth, placental abnormalities); female anatomy (uterus or cervix); medical issues (such as diabetes, hypertension, abnormal kidney function, thyroid imbalance, infections, blood clotting disorders, autoimmune disorders); pregnancy related events (uterine abruption, motor vehicle accident, or injury to the mother); and lifestyle choices (such as illicit drug use, smoking, alcohol).
10 T’s of Therapy Toolbox – please use the tools that will work best for you: 1) Talk to close family, 2) Talk to trusted friends or others with similar experience, 3) Talk to your partner, 4) Take care of yourself (improve diet and lifestyle choices) 5) Take time to remember your baby, 6) Take your vitamins, 7) Talk to a counselor, 8) Talk to your healthcare provider, 9) Take as much time as you need to heal, and most importantly, 10) Try again!
Many women who experience a pregnancy loss will go on to have a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby without any intervention. However, all women who have had a miscarriage or stillbirth should try to meet with a doctor before the next pregnancy, to discuss information that may help to improve the outcome of future pregnancies. Most importantly, give yourself time to heal, get as much information as you can, and hopefully with time and maybe even a little help, your tears of disappointment will be exchanged for tears of joy.
Quote Of The Month:
“While one may encounter many defeats, one must not be defeated.”
~ Maya Angelou ~