by Bruce Watt
For expectant mothers and fathers, the news of pregnancy ushers in an exciting new era in their lives. Sadly, for many prospective parents, the excitement for the future is replaced by the trauma of losing a child prematurely. NHS statistics state that of women who know they are pregnant, as many as one in six will lose their babies from a miscarriage. Aside from the physical trauma that miscarrying a child leaves upon the mother, there is also an often overlooked emotional weight that many prospective mothers are left to carry, long after the physical pains have faded away.
Yet despite miscarriages being a common occurrence, there is scant understanding of what causes a miscarriage and how to prepare for such a loss. Marta Smolinksa, 24, miscarried twins twelve weeks into her pregnancy. She spoke to GRENADE about her experiences dealing with the aftermath of such a loss.
“I think there should be more awareness around miscarriages, especially when it’s your first pregnancy. I was really happy, I didn’t really think it was going to happen. I knew these things happened but I didn’t think it would happen to me,” Smolinkska told us.
She continued,“Then, when a miscarriage happens, you think you’re alone in this. When it happened, all of these people came back with messages for me and said it had happened to them before, my friends, their siblings and even my friend’s mothers. The extent to which woman I knew had dealt with miscarriages before really surprised me. You realise it affects so many women.”
The stress of losing a child prematurely and subsequently having to go out and face the world is proven to lead to depression, anxiety and ongoing mental health issues. A third of women who visit specialist clinics after miscarrying a child are clinically depressed. However many women face dealing with the fallout from losing a child alone, often struggling to find the support to deal with the issue and places in which they can discuss their experience. For Marta, the issue was finding ways in which to speak to people about the loss of her pregnancy.
“It’s taboo, because nobody expects the worst when having a baby – it is to be the happiest moment of your life. If you want to have children and pregnancy happens there’s nothing better. You have people around you who are really supportive and happy about your expectancy, then boom, it [the pregnancy] is done.”
“You don’t really know how to react at first and in most cases, I know people [who] just shut themselves off to it and some of them have been suffering for years. Physically and mentally, your hormones are all over the shop and you sometimes still feel like you’re pregnant even though you’re not. Your brain tricks you into feeling that you still have a baby growing inside you. But you know that it’s over.”
In most cases, medical professionals are unable to give reasons for the miscarriage of a child; miscarriages are the least understood of all early pregnancy terminations. After the initial shock faded for Marta, it became important to discuss the issue with those close to her.
“If you talk it through you have to hear it with your own words and accept the fact that it happened. I’m not going to stop trying to have a baby, the only thing that worries me is when I get pregnant again I’m far more likely to be stressed about the pregnancy and worried that something might happen to it,” she told Grenade. “I know it’s not good but that’s what I would feel instead of being happy about being pregnant. But I am pretty sure I’m going to be a mum one day, for sure.”
There are charities such as tommys.org, that aim to help women through these difficult times, however charities such as these are few and far between and their existence is not always made clear to those suffering from losing a child prematurely. What is clear is that more needs to be done to highlight the issues surrounding miscarriage and lift the taboo from an issue that continues to effect women across the country on a daily basis.