sharing your stories and remembering your children
By: Rachel McCormack, CNM
Many wonder why they have had an early pregnancy loss. Why does it happen? Could I have done something to prevent it? Did I do something wrong?
As a midwife, I tell my patients they did nothing wrong. Often, miscarriages happen for unknown reasons. There is a lot of research focused on early pregnancy loss, and a lot of it we still do not quite understand. I wish there was a definite answer as to why miscarriage happens or that there was something we could do to prevent it, but unfortunately for most early losses, there are not. This is understandably hard for a lot of parents to hear. It is hard to lose your baby, no matter how many weeks old.
Early pregnancy loss is defined as a loss in the first trimester. Unfortunately, early pregnancy loss is common and happens in about 10% of pregnancies, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists. A little over half of miscarriages are caused by an abnormal number of chromosomes during fertilization. We do not have answers as to why the other half are lost. Many wonder if certain activities or what they ate or drank caused the loss. The answer is usually no. Exercise, sex, drinking coffee, working, etc., are unlikely the cause of a miscarriage.
An early pregnancy loss is usually a one-time event, and most women continue to have successful pregnancies. Those with recurrent pregnancy loss, which is uncommon, can be tested to rule out certain factors, but they can still have successful pregnancies.
The time around a miscarriage is difficult for parents and their families. Health care providers can help answer questions you may have and also prepare you for future pregnancies. It is best to wait a few menstrual cycles before trying to become pregnant again to allow your body time to heal. It is recommended that you take a prenatal vitamin, eat a well-balanced diet, and exercise while trying to conceive.
You should also see your doctor at least once a year for an annual exam and to be screened for conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and so forth. If you have diabetes, cholesterol or any other existing medical conditions, follow up with your provider to help in the management of them, for they can also increase your risk of early pregnancy loss.
If trying to conceive it is good to note that alcohol, tobacco, and drugs have been linked to the risk of early pregnancy loss, but the research is still unclear on whether it does or does not (ACOG). Medical professionals recommend avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and drugs in pregnancy to decrease complications that may arise from them.
Support groups can also be helpful by providing a place to hear other parents’ stories and sharing your own story. It helps to know that you are not alone. Although your little one may be gone, they are never forgotten.
My Baby has Wings
Each pregnancy is a joy
A blessing for parents
A time of anticipation and excitement
A time for new beginnings
A time to learn new things
To dream of the future together
But then something happened
My baby is there no more
How can this be?
My baby was just inside me?
I don’t understand what just happened?
What did I do wrong?
I sit with my head in my lap praying for help
Desperately searching for answers
I am alone
Sitting in silence
I feel weak
But then I am told
There is nothing I did wrong
Other women have experienced this loss too
I did nothing wrong
I am not alone
The future brings hope again
I can try again
Even though you are no longer here with me
You are never forgotten
For my baby has wings
Rachel McCormack is a certified nurse midwife serving in Hillsdale, Michigan.