Misconceptions about miscarriage lead to misery

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

A high percentage of women who suffer from a miscarriage blame themselves. A new study from the US has found that false beliefs and lack of understanding over the causes of miscarriage increase feelings of shame and guilt in women while dealing with the loss.

According to the study, almost 50% of women who had a miscarriage felt guilty, while two fifths felt they were to blame. Two out of every five women also said they felt alone.

The study also found that a considerable percentage of women who had miscarried had wrong ideas about the causes of miscarriage, which could contribute to their feelings of guilt. For instance, more than three out of five women (64%) thought that lifting heavy objects could cause miscarriage. Three fourths thought that stress caused by a worrying event could bring about a loss in pregnancy. 20% believed that using oral contraceptives could induce miscarriage.

The researchers also found that 57% of women who had a miscarriage were not provided with a reason for why it occurred, further contributing to their confusion. In the study sample, 55% of respondents believed that miscarriages occurred in less than 6% of all pregnancies. In reality, one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, the study reports. Respondents also thought that smoking, using drugs and consuming alcohol were some of the most common causes, when 60% of miscarriages are actually due to genetic problems.

The researchers, from New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center, believe that these false impressions are responsible for the negative feelings of guilt and shame experienced by women who experience pregnancy loss.

The authors said: “Patients who have experienced miscarriage may benefit from further counseling by healthcare providers, identification of the cause, and revelations from friends and celebrities. Healthcare providers have an important role in assessing and educating all pregnant patients about known prenatal risk factors, diminishing concerns about unsubstantiated but prevalent myths and, among those who experience a miscarriage, acknowledging and dissuading feelings of guilt and shame.”

Although miscarriages are quite common, it is considered taboo to talk about it, which exacerbates the lack of knowledge, stigma and negative feelings that take place when it happens. More understanding and education on the physiological reasons for it and the psychological impact it has on a person can help equip women and their partners to recover and cope with the loss.

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