Miscarriage is a heartbreaking experience that involves the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week. With sensitivity and empathy, we delve into the various types of miscarriage and the symptoms associated with each.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the highest risk of pregnancy loss is in the first 12 weeks, accounting for about 80% of all miscarriages. However, the risk significantly decreases after week 12, with only 1 to 5 pregnancies out of 100 ending in miscarriage during the second trimester.
In honour of Women's Month, Dr Yusrah Parker, esteemed Medical Advisor at Sanlam, shares her personal experience with the heartbreak of miscarriage.
With a heartfelt commitment, she emphasises the importance of creating awareness about the financial, emotional, and physical support available to women and their families during this challenging time.
Drawing from her journey, Parker understands the profound impact that pregnancy loss can have on a woman and her loved ones. She believes that by shedding light on the various forms of support, we can help alleviate the burden and provide solace to those affected.
"As a woman who has personally endured the trauma of pregnancy loss, I can deeply empathise with the emotional toll it takes on the woman and her family," Parker explained.
According to Parker, women who have miscarried often overlook the mental impact of the loss. They experience shock, anger, self-blame, and guilt.
Unfortunately, pregnancy loss is one of those things that people still cannot openly talk about thereby playing into the stigma associated with miscarrying.
“Women need to feel safe and supported to speak about it when we are ready. Many women who experience pregnancy loss can develop chronic mental health issues, even if they have subsequent successful pregnancies.”
The loss can also take a toll on a partnership, with each partner placing some blame on the other. There may also be feelings of jealousy towards couples that conceive and carry to term.
And there may be increased mental health issues around fertility journeys. The experience is deeply personal and individual, and everyone’s healing journey is different.
According to the Cleveland clinic there are different types of miscarriages:
Missed miscarriage: Silent grief
A missed miscarriage is a devastating loss where the embryo has ceased to develop, but the body has not yet expelled the contents of the uterus.
Often, there are no noticeable symptoms, leaving the pregnant person unaware until it is diagnosed through ultrasound. The silent grief of a missed miscarriage can be overwhelming.
In a threatened miscarriage, the cervix remains closed, but cramping and vaginal bleeding occur. While these symptoms can be distressing, they do not necessarily indicate pregnancy loss. Healthcare providers will closely monitor for any further signs, providing support during this uncertain time.
An inevitable miscarriage is characterised by vaginal bleeding and an open cervix. At this stage, the pregnancy tissue may not have been expelled, but the loss is imminent and cannot be prevented.
The emotional toll of an inevitable miscarriage can be overwhelming, and compassionate care is crucial.
A complete miscarriage occurs when the pregnancy has been lost, and all tissue has been passed, leaving the uterus empty. While the physical healing process begins, the emotional healing journey is unique for each individual. Support, understanding, and self-care play vital roles in this difficult time.
Recurrent miscarriage is a rare occurrence, affecting approximately 1% of pregnant individuals. It is defined as experiencing three consecutive miscarriages. The emotional and physical toll of recurrent miscarriage requires specialised care, investigation, and support to navigate this challenging journey.
Recognizing the signs
The most common signs and symptoms of miscarriage include vaginal bleeding, cramping, and passing tissue from the vagina. While these signs can be distressing, it is important to remember that not all bleeding or cramping leads to a miscarriage.
Seeking medical advice and support is essential to understand and cope with this heartbreaking reality.
Miscarriage is a deeply personal experience, and each person's journey is unique. By shedding light on the different types and symptoms, we hope to provide insight, support, and understanding for those who have experienced or are currently facing the challenges of miscarriage.
Additionally, it is often overlooked that partners also go through a significant loss in these situations, yet they often lack the necessary support to cope with their loss.
The significance of financial support is rarely discussed, yet it plays a crucial role in helping women feel empowered and affording them the time they need to heal.
Having financial protection, including income and severe illness coverage, allows women to claim when they need financial assistance the most, said Parker.
She advised seeking guidance from a trustworthy financial advisor to understand the diverse policies available and the type of protection they provide.
For instance, ectopic pregnancies, which represent 11 out of 1000 reported pregnancies, are considered a prescribed minimum benefit (PMB) and should be covered by all medical aid schemes.
This type of pregnancy loss occurs when the fertilised egg implants and develops outside the main cavity of the uterus, commonly in the fallopian tube. Unfortunately, this kind of pregnancy needs to be terminated and requires surgical intervention.
According to her, there is a pressing need for more honest dialogues about pregnancy loss.
Women and families will feel less alone as a result, and they will be more aware of the various sorts of help available to them, such as financial, physical and emotional support.