Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Dashed Hopes: When Pregnancy Ends in Miscarriage

Linda Ratner RN, CMPE
I was healthy and relatively young by today’s standards (30).  The first trimester of my pregnancy went well and seemed very easy.  I adjusted to the minor aches and pains and life went on.  At my first appointment we saw the tiny little fetus and were instantly in love.  There, before our eyes was our beautiful little glob!
Although 1994 seems a world ago,  the pain that accompanied that year is still very present.  Not only did I lose my precious dad rather suddenly, but I also lost a pregnancy that I  carried till the second trimester.  Hopes and dreams of holding that warm cuddly baby soon were replaced by a terrible fear of the unknown.
Nearly 25% of first pregnancies end in miscarriage.  Why then, if miscarriage is so common, don’t women speak of it more often?  Why aren’t we told of the risk of miscarriage by our OBs before we get pregnant so that we are armed with knowledge?
I am surrounded by young women of childbearing age that work side-by-side with me.  Together, we have suffered the inevitable loss of their first pregnancy.  As a nurse, I comfort and reassure them that Mother Nature knows what she’s doing.  They have to trust their bodies.  I offer my personal story which culminated in the eventual birth of 3 beautiful and healthy babies (not all at once!).  It takes time,  but eventually most of us move on and go on to have healthy babies.
Today, there are so many varied advances in maternal care.  I even read about a new test that can predict an impending miscarriage by analyzing progesterone levels.  According to Ioannis Gallos, MD at the University of Oxford in England, the risk of a nonviable pregnancy was 99.2% when progesterone levels were below the cut-off (Medpage Today, Neale).  This test, combined with symptoms, can help prepare a woman and her partner for an impending miscarriage.  I say “prepare”, but how can one ever prepare for such a thing?  I don’t know about you, but for me, knowledge is empowering. Not knowing is very difficult and seems to prolong the agony.  I guess given the choice, I’d rather be able to brace myself.

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