Hilaria Baldwin’s raw and honest posts about dealing with a miscarriage in real time sparked a public discussion about pregnancy loss.
The yoga instructor and wife of actor Alec Baldwin posted on Instagram that she was “most likely experiencing a miscarriage,” and confirmed five days later that there “was no heartbeat.”
Baldwin, 35, said that she wants “to be a part of the effort to normalize miscarriage and remove the stigma from it.”
Miscarriages are extremely common, even if they often go unmentioned, says Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, a board-certified OB/GYN at Yale University School of Medicine and member of PEOPLE’s Health Squad.
“It’s estimated that 20 to 30 percent of pregnancies end up in a miscarriage, and the most common form of a miscarriage is when the sperm and the egg don’t get together properly,” she explains. “They don’t fuse the chromosomes right, there’s some funky chromosomes involved; so basically the vast majority of pregnancies that are miscarried are babies that wouldn’t have been healthy.”
Minkin stresses that a miscarriage is not a reflection on the mom.
“Many people, when they do miscarry, think that they did something wrong,” she says. “They think, ‘I had a fight with my cousin,’ or ‘I shouldn’t have gone to the supermarket.’ No. Basically at the moment of conception something wasn’t right and you should never blame yourself. Unfortunately this is just bad luck, the vast majority of the time.”
Miscarriages can occur at any point in pregnancy, but the “vast majority” happen in the first trimester.
“After you get past the first trimester, or the point of developing a fetal heart, it really reduces the chance of having a miscarriage,” she says.
As women are typically in tune with their bodies, they will usually recognize that something is off.
“They oftentimes will say that they don’t feel pregnant anymore,” Minkin says. “If they were really queasy, they stop feeling queasy. They’re not as bloated, or as tired as they were.”
Another miscarriage symptom is bleeding, but keep in mind that bleeding “is really common” in the first trimester.
“If you have bleeding in the first trimester it doesn’t mean you’re going to miscarry, and indeed, half of the women who bleed in the first trimester go on to carry a perfectly normal, healthy pregnancy,” she says. “It does not always mean doom and gloom. There’s a very good chance that things will be okay.”
Even for women like Baldwin, who have had several successful pregnancies — daughter Carmen Gabriela, 5½, and sons Romeo Alejandro David, 10 months, Leonardo Ángel Charles, 2½, and Rafael Thomas, 3½ were all born in the last 6 years — a miscarriage is not unusual.
“It’s not unusual in the slightest,” Minkin says. “It’s a roll of the dice, really, if this egg is going to meet up with this sperm. To me, it’s a miracle that more miscarriages don’t happen. There’s so many interesting things that need to happen.”
That said, women who have had several miscarriages can still have a successful pregnancy. “Even if a woman has three miscarriages in a row, her chance of carrying a pregnancy is probably 75 percent. It’s still good,” Minkin says.
The main thing women who have miscarried need to know, she says, is that “it’s normal.”
“You shouldn’t berate yourself for feeling sad,” she says. “It’s okay to mourn. This person was part of you.”
Minkin also advises that women wait a menstrual cycle or two before they try again.
“That’s mostly for psychological reasons,” she says. “Let yourself do the appropriate mourning and feeling back to normal before you jump back in.”
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