Friday, 5 February 2016

My Wife Had a Miscarriage and More People Should Be Talking About It

Miscarriages suck, but it’s important to keep things in perspective.

Miscarriages are when a fetus dies before 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Growing up, I only knew one person who had miscarriages, and that was because she was a relative. My parents explained that it was something that happens occasionally, but since I had only one example for reference, I assumed it was rare and probably an extraordinary health issue with the potential mother.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Yet, more than 30 years later, I know that a lot of people think that way.

Some facts

  • “An estimated 15 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage… the actual number is likely higher, because many miscarriages occur very early on, before a woman knows she is pregnant” (Our Bodes Our Selves)
  • “Early pregnancy loss is so common that many obstetricians consider these miscarriages a normal part of reproduction.” (Parenting)
  • If you’ve already been “pregnant once, the odds are 80 percent that you will go on to have a healthy baby [later], and as many healthy babies after that as you want” (Henry Lerner, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Harvard Medical School and author of Miscarriage: Why it Happens and How Best to Reduce Your Risks)

But if miscarriages are so common, why don’t more people know?

People don’t like to talk about things they’re embarrassed about or worse, feel guilty about.

When I was job searching in Israel in 2001-2002, the longer the job search got, the less I wanted to talk about it. Especially after the 8-month mark, every “how’s your job search going?” unintentionally added to my frustrations about how I should have found a job already.

And that’s fair, because job seekers have much more control over their results than they realize, and had I really known how to job search, I would have found a job sooner. In other words, long job searches CAN be prevented.

But my embarrassment is where the comparison ends, because…

“The vast majority of miscarriages (also called spontaneous abortions) CANNOT be prevented; they are random events that are not likely to recur. Up to 70 percent of first-trimester miscarriages, and 20 percent of second-trimester miscarriages, are caused by chromosomal anomalies.” (Our Bodes Our Selves)

Since most people don’t know this fact, especially younger mothers-to-be, it’s easy for them to assume that the miscarriage is somehow their fault. But don’t blame.

Even people who should know better don’t always bring up miscarriages unless there’s an extremely compelling reason, such as a friend in need of support.

Case in point: since my wife posted on Facebook about her miscarriage this week, many people have reached out about their own miscarriages, including close friends that we were surprised hadn’t mentioned it until now.

ONLY such a compelling reason will help someone overcome their own hard feelings about what they went through, but frankly, it shouldn’t take so much.

Having spoken up about it earlier would have allowed them to get support too while educating people around them, essentially paying it forward by de-stigmatizing something that is shockingly common.

There's NOTHING shameful about having a miscarriage, but it is shameful to not talk about it.Click To Tweet

At the very least, talk about it to your close friends, relatives and anyone you’d like to educate and protect from unnecessary feelings of shame and embarrassment later.

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