What Similarities And Differences Lie Between Stillbirths And Miscarriages?
This article seeks to understand the differences between stillbirths versus miscarriages. Both experiences are of deep loss, we all will agree.
As we attempt to dissect stillbirth versus miscarriage, we will all agree that both of them are deep losses. Also, no woman deserves the experience. Both miscarriage and stillbirth describe pregnancy loss. They only differ according to when the loss occurs. Losing a baby is hard. Find out about miscarriage and stillbirth, the similarities and the differences.
Stillbirth Versus Miscarriage: Defining The Terms
What Is A Miscarriage?
A miscarriage is losing a baby during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. This is fairly common, about 1 or 2 out of every 10 pregnant women miscarry. The great news it doesn't stop them from going on to have healthy pregnancies in the future, barring further health concerns.
The signs of a miscarriage vary for each woman, but the main sign is a bleeding that's like a heavy period. Heavy bleedings in pregnancy signal danger.
Many miscarriages which occur early in pregnancy (before 14 weeks) are a result of developmental problems with the baby. There are other potential causes, such as hormonal or blood-clotting problems.
Some Causes Of Later Miscarriages
- problems in the placenta
- the cervix being too weak and opening too early in the pregnancy
Diagnosis and treatment
Your doctor will perform a pelvic exam, an ultrasound test and bloodwork to confirm a miscarriage. If the miscarriage is complete and the uterus is empty, then no further treatment is usually required. Occasionally, the uterus is not completely emptied, so a dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure is performed. During this procedure, the cervix is dilated and any remaining fetal or placental tissue is gently removed from the uterus. As an alternative to a D&C, certain medication can be given to cause your body to expel the contents in the uterus. This option may be more ideal in someone who wants to avoid surgery and whose condition is otherwise stable.
What Is A Stillbirth?
A stillbirth is the death or loss of a baby before or during delivery. It is further classified as either early, late, or term.
- An early stillbirth is a fetal death occurring between 20 and 27 completed weeks of pregnancy.
- A late stillbirth occurs between 28 and 36 completed pregnancy weeks.
- A term stillbirth occurs between 37 or more completed pregnancy weeks.
Stillbirth affects about 1% of all pregnancies, and each year about 400,000 babies are stillborn in Nigeria. It occurs in families of all races, ethnicities, and income levels, and to women of all ages. However, it occurs more commonly among certain groups of people including women who:
- are of black race
- are 35 years of age or older
- have low socioeconomic status
- smoke cigarettes during pregnancy
- have certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity
- have multiple pregnancies such as triplets or quadruplets
- had a previous pregnancy loss
The Most Common Causes of Stillbirths
- Placental Problems
- Birth Defects
- Growth Restriction
- Other infrequent causes of stillbirth include
- Unfortunately, despite efforts to find out why, the cause can not be determined in about one-third of stillbirths.
Diagnosis and treatment
If your baby passes away before birth, there are usually several options for delivering the baby. In many cases, there is no need to do this immediately unless you have medical complications. However, your doctor will want to schedule a time in the near future for you to deliver. Most stillborn babies can be delivered vaginally after induction of labor, unless there are specific reasons for cesarean delivery.
Stillbirth Versus Miscarriage: Comparing The Loss
While the physical differences between a miscarriage and a stillbirth are easy to see, the emotional differences will never fit into the same neat, little tables. The way we mourn is not only unique to each mother, it’s also unique to each loss.
it’s natural for us to want to compare the two types of loss. We wonder why one mama grieves harder than another or why one type of loss hurts for longer. Also, we question whether we should be grieving more and whether we’re a “bad mom” for not grieving as long as someone else. We try to comfort ourselves or others by thinking, “at least I lost this baby early on…”
But there is no “at least” in this situation; one type of loss is not “better” than the other.
It’s not fair to compare our loss and subsequent grief to another mama’s; just as it’s not fair to compare our miscarriages to our stillbirths.
Loss is loss.
Each baby is unique and each mama deserves the right to mourn her child as she feels best. We should not negate the impact of a loss by comparing our grief to that of another loss. Loss is scary, painful, and scarring but each loss is different. One loss cannot be compared to another beyond the fact that there is no pain like the death of a child.
It’s time for us to stop comparing our grief; because no matter whether we’ve experienced a miscarriage or a stillbirth, loss hurts.
At four weeks or at forty, a loss is a loss.
Resource: Web MD
Also read: Recurrent Miscarriage: Causes And Treatment