Why do women still blame themselves for miscarriage?



A large number of women who suffer a miscarriage carry guilt, believing they are to blame for their pregnancy losses, it has been revealed.

But even though the statistics tell us miscarriage is common – 15 to 20 per cent of pregnancies end within the first 20 weeks – new data suggests women believe otherwise.

Obstetrics and Gynaecology recently published the results of a study, which gauged public perceptions of miscarriage. It found that many women wrongly believe that miscarriage is actually a rare event. It also reveals that there are widespread misconceptions about the causes of miscarriage.

The study reports, “Commonly believed causes of miscarriage included a stressful event, lifting a heavy object, previous use of an intrauterine device, or oral contraceptives.”

Also of concern was that of those respondents who have miscarried, almost half feel guilty, with large numbers of women also feeling that they had done something wrong to bring on the pregnancy loss, as well as feeling alone and ashamed.

One of the report’s authors, Dr Zev Williams, also the director of the Program for Early and Recurrent Pregnancy Loss, had this to say to the The New York Times.

“The vast majority of women I see blame themselves. Miscarriage is unique in the amount of self-blame and shame involved. I’ve treated siblings who have each had many and didn’t even realize that they were both suffering from the same problem,” he says.

“One message I really want to get out there to women is that you did not cause this to happen.”

According to the Royal Women’s Hospital, half of all miscarriages are caused by abnormal chromosomes in the embryo that stop the pregnancy developing properly right from the start. Here are some other key factors that experts say may cause miscarriage:

  • The age of the mother. Miscarriages are more common in older mums
  • Smoking and excessive drinking
  • Too much coffee – doctors recommend no more than five cups a day
  • Medical conditions including diabetes, fibroids or thyroid problems
  • Early tests in pregnancy, such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and amniocentesis

And here are things that don’t cause miscarriage.

  • Too much exercise
  • Feeling stressed
  • Lifting a toddler
  • Poor eating habits or too much junk food
  • Common colds and sniffles
  • Lack of sleep
  • Sex


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