Pregnancy Loss Awareness and the Importance of Talking About Miscarriage
May is Maternal Mental Health Month and an excellent time to spread pregnancy loss awareness and discuss the mental toll it can have.
For many people, “miscarriage” is a word to be talked about in hushed tones, if talked about at all. Yet, at the same time, miscarriage and late-term pregnancy loss still happen, and by not discussing the topic openly, we do a disservice to the many women (and men) who have gone through the experience.
The loss of a pregnancy can have an enormous effect on a mother’s mental health. But unfortunately, it can also be incredibly isolating since we still have a long way to go when it comes to pregnancy loss awareness. Fortunately, public figures like Meghan Markle have shared their own experiences with pregnancy loss and helped bring more attention to the issue. But there’s still a need to talk about the subject publicly, particularly regarding clearing up misconceptions about pregnancy loss and helping mothers feel less alone.
This Maternal Mental Health Month, we’d like to share some of the realities around early pregnancy loss, including the trauma it can cause. Here’s what to know, as well as some things we can all do to help change the conversation.
Pregnancy Loss and Miscarriage Statistics
Miscarriage, which is defined as the loss a pregnancy before 20 weeks gestation, is surprisingly common, and happens in 12-15% of all recognized pregnancies worldwide. After 20 weeks the loss is known as a stillbirth, which, although less common, still occurs in one out of every 100 pregnancies.
- Among all pregnancies (known and unknown), it’s estimated that 26% end in miscarriage.
- 80% of early pregnancy losses occur in the first trimester.
- About one in ten women will experience a miscarriage in her lifetime.
Whether we talk about it or not, a large number of women will experience a miscarriage throughout their lifetime. The more open we can be, the more support we can offer—and the more likely mothers will be to prioritize their mental health and get help after a loss.
Trauma and Postpartum Depression After Miscarriage and Loss
Pregnancy causes a whole host of physical and mental changes, and so does pregnancy loss.
According to studies, 30-50% of women experience anxiety after the loss of a pregnancy and 10-15% experience depression. This can happen even in cases of early miscarriage, regardless of how long a woman has known she is pregnant.
Physically, recovery from miscarriage or pregnancy loss can take months, which adds to grief and trauma. This includes an ongoing hormone imbalance after miscarriage, since pregnancy hormones remain in the blood for one to two months.
Miscarriage Awareness: Changing the Conversation
Even when miscarriage and pregnancy loss are talked about, there are many misconceptions around them. This includes the idea that a loss isn’t a big deal emotionally if it occurs early on in the pregnancy, or that having a healthy baby in the future will somehow erase the pain of the initial loss.
The emotional pain of pregnancy loss is very real, and is felt deeply at all stages. And when we acknowledge this, we help combat the shame and guilt that mothers often feel. We also open up the door to dialogue, making it more likely that an individual will take care of their mental health after a loss occurs.
We can all do our part to change perceptions around miscarriage and pregnancy loss. If the topic comes up, don’t shy away from it, and do try to correct
any misconceptions you hear.
No mother should suffer alone. If you are in need of mental health care, we encourage you to learn about our programs and reach out for a consultation.