As my chief sonographer guided the sonogram(ultrasound probe) across her belly, I noticed an unfamiliar silence unlike him(he always like interacting with the patients) as he searched the screen for the tiny flicker of the heartbeat only to sadly realize it was not there.
He took a deep breath and said the phrase that makes my heart hurt each and every time the words leave his mouth, “I’m sorry but there is no heartbeat. Unfortunately, you are having a miscarriage.”
Few Minutes later, the lady was all blaming it all on herself that she shouldn’t have gone for that early morning jogging last weekend or stressed herself on work. She blamed it all on herself.
“I am so sorry,” I said. “You did nothing that caused this miscarriage and there is absolutely nothing you could have done differently.” I made sure that she not only hears me, but acknowledges what I’m telling her.
I’m writing this to debunk some myths about miscarriages. Knowing why a miscarriage happens and help women let go of the notion that they had somehow caused it.
Myth #1: It’s your fault
Over 70% of miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities. Meaning that the sperm and egg did not join properly at the conception and the pregnancy was simply not meant to be from the very start.
Miscarriage is not caused by lifting, sex, eating the wrong foods, missing a vitamin, raising your hands over your head, exercising or stress. It could not have been prevented by calling the doctor earlier or taking a pill.
Women often search for a cause for their loss, and in their search they will usually over analyze everything they have done, which leads to unwarranted guilt.
Myth #2: It will happen again the next time
The overall miscarriage rate is around 15% for healthy women under the age of 35. Having one loss before 12 weeks does not increase the risk of having a miscarriage in the next pregnancy.
With each advancing week of the pregnancy, the risk of loss begins to decline and in most incidences drops to less than 5% after a heartbeat is seen and to less than .5% after 12 weeks.
Having 2 miscarriages in a row or 3 total miscarriages is suggestive of a medical reason for the losses and testing is recommended. But even in these women with multiple losses, the majority will go on to deliver a healthy baby.
Myth #3: All bleeding means miscarriage
When you see pink streaks on the toilet paper, it is hard not to immediately think the worst. Doctors most times get calls from patients who are experiencing spotting in early pregnancy and you can feel their anxiety through the phone.
While spotting is not a good sign, it doesn’t always mean miscarriage either. Bleeding, especially a small amount that’s not associated with pain, can sometimes be coming from the cervix or vaginal tissue and not the uterus.
Up to twelve percent of women that experience bleeding in the first trimester will go on to deliver a healthy baby. If you have bleeding, do follow up with your provider, but don’t immediately give up hope.
Myth 4: My prior birth control use caused the miscarriage.
Generally, birth control pills work by stopping ovulation, stopping the possibility of your egg meeting with sperm after sex, and stopping the fertilization that’s required before a pregnancy is implanted. When you stop using birth control pills, ovulation resumes.
In some cases, like with IUDs (which generally work by stopping fertilization and implantation), it’s possible to get pregnant pretty much as soon as you stop using the method.
If there has been contraceptive failure leading to an unplanned pregnancy or you’ve recently stopped using contraception, you are at no increased risk of miscarriage or
major birth defects as demonstrated by large registry studies.
More so, women who have had prolonged use of contraceptives should be reassured that they have no delay in the resumption of ovulation and are at no increased risk of miscarriage.
Written by Precious Tochukwu Nnabuike.