5 Myths About Miscarriages
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. If you are someone who is grieving the loss of an embryo, pregnancy, infant or child, my sincerest condolences go out to you. There is no wrong way to grieve this. Some people are able to bounce back and get back to feeling like themselves again shortly afterwards; others will take their time. Some will need to process this on their own; others will need to gather their tribe around them. Whatever is the case for you, take a deep breath and give yourself permission to move through this however you need to.
My intention is to illuminate some myths around losses along the fertility journey. The lack of communication about these difficult topics perpetuates the taboo which in turn further shuts down conversation. My hope is that as we open up talking about these difficult topics, you will give yourself the permission to be witnessed and that, in and of itself, can be a very healing experience.
Myth #1: Miscarriage is rare.
This myth of rarity is one of the reasons why there is a harmful cycle of shame and isolation around grieving couples. The reality is that miscarriages happen in about one in five known pregnancies. 60% of these happen because of chromosomal abnormalities. While chromosomally testing embryos (CCS or PGD) with in-vitro fertilization (IVF) will significantly increase the chance of a successful pregnancy, there is still a risk. At the age that embryos are sent out for testing, all the lab is able to test is to make sure it has 46 chromosomes. Take comfort in the fact that your body is wise and is doing the best that she can.
Myth #2: It is the women’s fault when a miscarriage happens.
I have sat with many women as they grieve losses and a theme that always seems to come up is: “I feel guilty. Is there anything I could have done to prevent this?” This is not your fault. It is however, completely normal to feel this way and many women do. This is the time to call on your support system. When you hear your negative internal monologue, recognize that you are the one holding the pen and change the script. Ask yourself: “If my sister or friend were going through this, what would be helpful to say?”
Myth #3: Nothing can be done to prevent miscarriages.
In Chinese Medicine, we talk about the genetic blueprint you are born with vs. the health and wellbeing you cultivate. For example, having an underactive thyroid puts you at risk for an early miscarriage. However, just because your mother had hypothyroidism, does NOT mean that you are genetically doomed to the same fate. The lifestyle choices that you make will determine if particular genes get turned off or on. It is true that you may have a higher chance of developing hypothyroidism compared to someone who does not have the family history, but you have the right to feel empowered in your choices and your health. This is where Chinese Medicine shines. In the course of treatment, your Acubalance practitioner will create a plan that involves diet and lifestyle coaching to support a balanced body, mind and spirit. Acupuncture treatments will encourage blood circulation to the ovaries and uterus which will help nourish egg quality and prepare the uterus for implantation.
Myth #4: No one wants to hear about your miscarriage.
When you are ready to share, what you will likely find is that you are surrounded by women with stories exactly like yours (remember Myth #1?). Be brave and vulnerable and share with those who deserve to hear your story. This does not have to be a pity party. Sharing your story can actually be an offering to a community of women who are craving connection and understanding on a deep level.
Myth #5: Grieving the loss of an embryo is silly.
I work with couples who are at various stages along the fertility journey. Some are going through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) which is when egg and sperm are introduced in a lab and given the chance to grow for a few days before being transferred into the women’s uterus. For those who are going through IVF, the days between egg retrieval and transfer day are fraught with anxiety and potential grief. In addition to the difficult challenges of navigating miscarriage and infant loss, I would like to honour the women and men who sit patiently by their phones, waiting for the call from the fertility clinic to update them on how many embryos survived to Day 2, then Day 3, then Day 5 or 6. Each embryo that does not survive past the petri dish feels like a loss. This feels like prospective grief, the loss of potential, the snuffing out of a future and this is a very, very real feeling. It is just as important to honor this feeling and you have every right to grieve this.
You deserve a supportive hand, you are worthy of understanding. If you are grieving or moving through a loss, I would be honored to hold space for you, to help you come up with a plan to move forward. I’d like to invite you to call Acubalance Wellness Centre to set up your appointment (604) 678-8600.
With an open heart,
Kathleen Lee B.S. MTCM, L.Ac. RTCMP, FABORM