The dividing line between the maybe and the definite that is the 12 week scan is poignant and important for many reasons. Not least, at 12 weeks the likelihood of miscarrying dramatically reduces, albeit not to zero. Prior to 12 weeks, it is a different story – 1 in 4 pregnancies miscarries within the first 3 months. It’s the reason there is a cagey hush around declaring pregnancies to friends and extended families prior to 12 weeks. It’s the reason the maternity clinic will only see you once prior to the 12 week scan.
With one in 4 early pregnancies miscarrying, there’s a good chance someone you know has had one, but there’s also a reasonable chance that they haven’t told you.
Miscarrying still holds a taboo about it, which, at least in the UK, still means its difficult to talk about. Perhaps its because we are a stiff upper lip society – things go wrong, oh dear, nevermind, chin up, move on, lets not talk about it anymore. Or perhaps its because there is a view that somehow you have failed – in body or perhaps in mind – perhaps my body isn’t healthy enough, perhaps I didn’t want it enough, perhaps I could have done something differently. Or perhaps it is because we need to grieve for our loss but there is no way we have in society to do this – no funeral, no memorial service for this tiny part of us and the loss of a future it represents.
If the 12 week scan represents the line between maybe and definite, miscarrying represents the line between giddy hope and quiet grief. If it happens to you, it is not your fault, you are not to blame, you and your partner are as much victims of nature’s strange ways as your unborn baby. And you’re entitled to be devastated. We must learn to listen, to support those we love through the loss, to allow them to grieve and, if they want to, to talk.
And we should also help them to be hopeful for the future; because 3 in 4 pregnancies don’t end in miscarriage, which means there is a strong possibility that the next pregnancy might be successful.