In honor of October’s National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, Progyny hosted a webinar on pregnancy loss and the physical and emotional rollercoaster that many experience. Our expert panelists discussed common myths about miscarriages, the different ways to process a loss, how to approach conversations with loved ones, and answered frequently asked questions.
The webinar featured:
- Dr. Georgia Witkin – Head of Member Services Development at Progyny, Assistant Professor of OB-GYN and Reproductive Sciences and Assistant Clinical Professor at Mount Sinai
- Arielle Bogorad– SVP of Employer Market Strategy at Progyny
- Dr. Lora Shahine, FACOG – Reproductive Endocrinologist and OB-GYN at Pacific NW Fertility, Progyny network provider
Breaking Down Myths Around Miscarriage
Miscarriage can be a tremendously difficult experience, but it is rarely talked about because of the stigma and shame that surrounds it. Unfortunately, this can prevent people from talking about and processing their experiences and can also perpetuate harmful myths. Below are some common misconceptions about miscarriages that we want to clear up.
- Myth: Pregnancy loss is a rare pregnancy complication.
This is false. Despite media portrayals of easy pregnancies, pregnancy loss is not a rare occurrence. It actually occurs in one out of four pregnancies.
- Myth: Daily stress can cause a miscarriage.
This is false. Miscarriage is not caused by daily stress, and individuals should never blame themselves. It is normal to want to isolate a cause or one variable that could be changed. While it is difficult to accept that there may not be one identifiable cause, it’s important to know you are not at fault for your experience.
- Myth 3: Individuals must wait four to six months to try again after a loss.
Each situation is different but it is generally recommended to wait at least one menstrual cycle before trying again. This allows the body to reset and prepare physically for another pregnancy attempt. If the pregnancy loss occurs in the second or third trimester, this time may be extended, but the four to six month rule is outdated and generally patients can try again much sooner. If you have experienced pregnancy loss, please speak with your doctor to discuss what’s best for your unique situation.
Grieving a Miscarriage
Since miscarriage can be a taboo subject, many people who experience pregnancy loss may not know how to feel or grieve. In reality, there is no perfect formula for grief. An initial experience of shock is common with such an abrupt change, and moving forward can feel overwhelming. It’s normal to feel multiple feelings at once, sadness about what happened but hope for the future.
As you navigate loss and experience grief, you may notice there are certain triggers that bring up strong emotions. For some, seeing other babies and families can be triggering and remind them of the family they long for. For others, there may be a delayed experience of grief, or different emotions may come in waves. This is also completely normal. It is okay to feel that your experience is unfair and allowing yourself to feel those negative emotions is part of the healing process.
In addition to talking to loved ones and your physician, support groups and grief counselors can provide additional support as you work through your experience. Organizations like RESOLVE provide valuable resources, including educational articles and community events.
Discussing Your Miscarriage with Friends and Family
While processing loss, you might want to talk through your experience with loved ones, and often, people want to lend that support. However, we know this can also prompt unsolicited advice that can be harmful and triggering. At worst, these statements can inadvertently make you feel you are to blame.
Friends and family will naturally want to try to help, and sometimes a simple “I’m sorry” and a hug can make a world of difference. Additionally, cards and flowers can be thoughtful gestures to show support. Presence is key when offering comfort, rather than finding the perfect words.
If you have experienced a miscarriage and find discussing this with loved ones draining, it is perfectly normal to set boundaries and advocate for what you need. You may feel that on top of processing your loss, you are responsible for humoring others with details of your experience. You are not. A polite “I appreciate your support but am not ready to talk about it at this time” is more than enough. Self-love and self-care are so important, and you should never shy away from asking for what you need.
- Does bleeding or spotting always indicate a miscarriage or can there be another cause?
Every pregnancy is unique and while spotting may be a sign of early miscarriage in some, individuals can experience heavy bleeding and successfully carry a pregnancy to term. If you do experience spotting, you should be able to call your doctor or nurse day or night for reassurance and to schedule an appointment to be seen to confirm everything is okay.
- Are there different types of miscarriage?
The two most common categories of miscarriage are biochemical and clinical. A biochemical miscarriage is when a pregnancy has occurred but ended so early that it was not detected on an ultrasound. A clinical miscarriage occurs far enough along into the pregnancy that it is detected on an ultrasound.
- When my coworkers found out about my miscarriage, they were all talking about their experience and reaching out with unsolicited advice. What do you say to coworkers? How do I navigate this?
One of the hardest parts of moving forward after a miscarriage is feeling responsible for educating your family and coworkers in addition to processing your own grief. It is okay not to take everyone’s advice and to let people know that you appreciate their support but aren’t ready to discuss your experience. If someone says something hurtful or insensitive, politely let them know.
If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a Progyny member, remember your Patient Care Advocate is always a resource. Progyny is committed to helping you on your family building journey and is always here to support you.