Miscarriages Are Incredibly Common, So Why Don’t We Talk About Them?

Pregnancy loss is very common.

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Two years ago, Chrissy Teigen revealed that she had experienced what many parents only hear about, but never hope to experience themselves. At about halfway through her pregnancy, Teigen, who spent the month on bed rest due to bleeding and was admitted to the hospital on Monday due to continued bleeding, experienced pregnancy loss. Chrissy and John likely went through the experience of a miscarriage, and they are far from alone in experiencing the tragedy of losing a wanted baby. In fact, around 20% of confirmed pregnancies miscarriage. And some experts suggest that the number of overall miscarriages might be much higher, as pregnancies can often end before someone even knows they are pregnant.

Chrissy Teigen is known for being open and honest about nearly all aspects of her life, and her refreshing candor is what has made her an American sweetheart, with many loving her no-bullshit personality and her brutal honesty about her life and the world. The way she approached talking about her miscarriage is no different. But Teigen is, in a sense, breaking the script. Many miscarriages aren’t discussed because they happen within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, which is often weeks before people even reveal that they are pregnant. Teigen was well beyond that first semester when she revealed her pregnancy — which is what makes her grieving so public. But hopefully, for many parents who have gone through miscarriage, it will be a helpful reminder that they, too, are not alone.

Why Don’t We Talk About Miscarriage?

One part of understanding how we talk about, or rather, often don’t talk about, pregnancy loss is to understand that even knowing that you’re losing a pregnancy is a relatively modern phenomenon. Before the 1960s, before people who could get pregnant had birth control and fertility control medicine, pregnancies often weren’t confirmed until they were extremely visible, and miscarriages or pregnancy loss might be considered an extremely heavy period, up until a certain point. Plus, before birth control methods to control when you could get pregnant or to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, far fewer pregnancies were planned and some were occasionally not wanted. Until parents began to have control over when they could get pregnant, the loss of a pregnancy felt far less emotionally wrenching.

That, and by the time that parents knew they were experiencing miscarriage, in the second trimester, those events were far more deadly than they are today. Pregnancy, and birth, are so much safer, that parents can focus more on their expected child than their own safety.

People Don’t Know How to Appropriately Grieve Miscarriage

Obviously, the shift in how we feel about miscarriage is understandable, now that we can detect pregnancies much earlier and they’re more often successful. But because of that shift — and because of the cultural gag rule on talking about pregnancies before they’re 12 weeks along, and sometimes further — people often mourn their miscarriages before anyone else even knows they’re pregnant, making pregnancy loss a deeply personal, and isolating experience. Obviously, everyone can speak about their pregnancies when and how they wish. But it’s hard to do so when no one else talks about them, either, and can make expecting parents feel like they have failed, rather than experienced a normal, if devastating, part of trying to have a baby.

Why Does It Harm Us When We Don’t Talk About Miscarriage or Pregnancy Loss?

Grieving alone — and grieving when no one else knows you’re grieving at all — is enormously tough. Many prospective parents can’t bear to both, in one sentence, reveal that they were once pregnant and that the pregnancy has been lost.

Additionally, miscarriage is complicated. For some people, it doesn’t feel like they lose their baby — it could just be a roadblock on the way to a successful pregnancy. For others, it really could feel like the devastating loss of a wanted baby, which is clearly what Teigen and her husband, John Legend, are going through. This makes it hard for people to respond appropriately to when they hear about the loss of a pregnancy.

And, of course, for many pregnant people, losing a pregnancy feels like they’ve failed in some way, and because no one talks about how common miscarriage is, it feels like a distinct failure, an uncommon one. It is important to note, time and time again, just how common pregnancy loss is. Parents who lose pregnancies are not alone.

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