I LOVE MY JOB! 97% of the time it is happy and brings me GREAT joy.
3% of the time, I am faced with sorrow and pain. Most of the time, this is associated with the obstetric piece of what I do.
This past week I encountered two separate scenarios. One involving a woman who had what is known as a missed abortion. She presented to her routine obstetric visit, and on ultrasound it was found that the fetus was without a heart beat. We call this a missed abortion as there were no signs associated with it. There was no cramping, bleeding, etc. It was an incidental finding. I met her for the first time a few days after the diagnosis as I was the physician on-call who would be performing her suction dilation and curettage.
The second scenario I encountered involved a woman that I saw on postpartum during rounds who had suffered a loss in her late second trimester. She was known to me, as I had seen her during her last pregnancy.
Lots of questions came to mind on everyone’s part. Both patients wondered, was it my fault? Why did this happen to me? Could I have done something differently?
From my perspective, it usually comes down to, what do I say? Asking how one is doing, while seemingly the dumbest question in the world, isn’t always the worst place to start. After all, there are a lot of emotions involved in dealing with a loss.
Here are my top 5 tips for coping with a Pregnancy Loss:
- KNOW YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Roughly 15% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Probably more than that as at times, folks may not even realize they are pregnant or have experienced a loss.
- REALIZE IT ISN’T YOUR FAULT! Most of the time a first trimester loss involves an issue with the union between the egg and the sperm. If we, as in the patient and ob/gyn find that there is a pattern of loss, a more in-depth workup is typically done to figure out if there is an underlying cause.
- ALLOW YOURSELF TIME TO GRIEVE! A loss is a loss is a loss. You are allowed to feel whatever you want/need to feel whether that’s anger, sadness, frustration, bewilderment. Give yourself the gift of grace. There is no need to rush into the next pregnancy until you’ve fully recovered from your current situation.
- ACCEPT THE LOVE AND SUPPORT OF OTHERS! One of the main reasons folks don’t want to share news of a pregnancy is fear of having to share news like this. Remember, the same folks that loved and supported you when you announced your exciting news will be the same ones that love and support you during your difficult time. With Pregnancy loss being such a “taboo” topic, you’d be surprised at who else might share that they’ve experienced a similar loss.
- DON’T FORGET, WE GOT YOU! I know the grammar on the previous statement could be better, but you get my point! As your obstetrician, we will be there for you EVERY step of the way. Helping you cope/get through your loss to eventually navigating and supporting you through subsequent pregnancies. Not only will you have the continuous support of your physicians, family, and friends, but there are also support groups to help get you through this. I heard someone recently mention “Strength in Numbers”!
Hoping this blog post has added value to your day!
Until next time,
Look Better. Feel Better. Be Better.