When it comes to women and pregnancy loss, the statistics are staggering.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, one in four women have either suffered a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss.
While up to 25 percent of clinically recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage, many happen unnoticed. More than half of all miscarriages are deemed “chemical pregnancy miscarriages,” which happen around the 5th week of pregnancy when a fertilized egg does not survive. Chemical pregnancy miscarriages tend to have the same symptoms as a menstrual cycle, and generally occur not too far after receiving a positive pregnancy test result.
Equally disturbing, 1 percent of all pregnancies end in stillbirth, which occur after the 20th week of pregnancy.
Though many women experience pregnancy loss, very few are open to discussing it immediately. It often takes weeks, months, or even years to begin to express the loss, hurt, and despair that families endure during that difficult time.
I have been fortunate enough to have friends who have shared their stories with me, and continue to make this issue one that all women need to be aware of.
The first person to open up to me about miscarriage was one of my dear friends. She shared her mother’s story of suffering two stillbirths before she was born in 1977. After the two stillbirths, which both occurred around 38 weeks of gestation, her mother took action and decided that while carrying my friend, she would induce labor early, while the pregnancy was still relatively healthy to avoid this happening again. This story was not only sad, but also foreign to me as a twenty-something.
It was also a preview of what other women close to me would go through.
An in-law, a cousin, two other dear friends, and numerous sorority sisters have also dealt with this. Some of the losses happened after attempting conception for years, some after getting pregnant immediately. Some of them experienced what is known as ectopic pregnancy. Some experienced more than one. One of them delivered a stillbirth son around 26 weeks of pregnancy. Another one lost a twin, while still carrying the other embryo.
It happens. Your pain and experiences are real. And you are not alone.
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All of my friends who suffered later went on to get pregnant again, and ultimately carried healthy babies, all of whom are still thriving. Nothing will ever erase the memories they may have from what they went through. But we don’t have to go through it without support.
As women, we must be cognizant of the symptoms of pregnancy loss and stillbirth, and also continue to support one another. Symptoms of a miscarriage may include abdominal cramping, bleeding that may progress from light to heavy, fever and the passing of tissue. If you’re pregnant and experiencing any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately.
Above all, it is not your fault. Don’t blame yourself for a miscarriage. When you’re ready, try again. Up to 85 percent of women conceive again after suffering a miscarriage. And when the time comes, don’t be afraid to share your story. You never know who you are helping.