The 3rd Degree Women who Miscarry Get
There is today a very real bias against women who have had
a miscarriage. When a woman has a miscarriage, she gets the 3rd
degree from many people, usually other women, that she has caused it.
First, for anyone unfamiliar with miscarriage, let me make
it clear that it is an awful experience. You may think that the only loss is
the emotional one of losing a potential child. Actually, the entire experience
is extraordinarily painful. To miscarry, a woman must dilate, go into
contractions, and expel the growth. I say “growth” because in many
miscarriages, a woman has no fetus to expel. An implantation occurred, causing a
hormonal rise to trigger “pregnancy,” but in fact there is no fetus. When a
woman goes into these contractions, she is in labor but without any of the
planning or medication to get her through labor. It is very physically painful.
This is not to mention the unknown and uncertainty of what is actually going
After a woman miscarries, it seems ubiquitous that many
people will insinuate that the woman somehow caused it. The insinuation comes
from all over, regardless of religious or political ideology. One woman I know
blasted another for travelling while pregnant. Some women, tending towards
Eastern medicine and general irrationality, blame it on the woman being “stressed”
and unwilling to relax. A Christian woman I know blamed another woman’s
miscarriage on former birth control use.
Like seeming everything related to pregnancy, none of
these accusations are grounded in science. It is simpleton thinking—and totally
lacking in compassion. They have one thing in common: a belief that the woman
caused the miscarriage.
A recent news
story outlines this 3rd degree treatment; except in this case it
was 1st degree. A woman went to her doctor for a routine checkup
with her pregnancy. She was showing signs of miscarriage. The doctor ordered
bed rest. When the woman said she had 2 small children at home and bed rest was
not an option, the doctor called the State and forced her into a hospital. When
she requested to go to a different hospital, she was refused. Three days after
being in the hospital, the woman miscarried.
This is the general treatment a pregnant woman gets.
Because she is giving life to a new person, everyone feels entitled to tell her
what to do. Any pregnant woman can tell you about the inane medical advice that
other women give her and pressure her into. (Most women however seem to happily
oblige to every worry about lunch meat and the almighty command to “RELAX”.) The
book What to Expect when You’re Expecting, written by a non-medical
person and popular among people who simply like catchy titles, is filled with
this kind of shrill advice.
Let’s make something clear: there are very few women who
would mishandle something as important as pregnancy. The overwhelming majority
of pregnant women are happy to be pregnant and will do whatever they can, based
on their own judgment, to nurture their growing child. Most miscarriages had to
happen: something was wrong with the fetus, if there was one, and the body must
This is the proper response to any woman who tells you she
miscarried: I am so sorry to hear that and I hope YOU are OK. Husbands can help by stating to others, "The most important thing
is that my wife is healthy and safe."
This is also the reason I strongly encourage women to not
announce their pregnancy until the second trimester, when the risk for
miscarriage is much lower. It has nothing to do with being embarrassed about
pregnancy. But you do not want to endure the 3rd degree you might
get if you were to miscarry. Also, the advice people give about pregnancy is
probably unwanted. And, besides, most of your friends and family probably can’t
keep their mouths shut with a secret such as that. It is usually wise to keep
quiet about it.
I recommend the same even when trying to conceive (“TTC”).
If you are not successful at it, the advice given about it is, again, inane.
This treatment that women who miscarried get, which is
ubiquitous, in my opinion, shows a basic lack of compassion in civil society. It
is a very immature reaction to look at something tragic like a miscarriage and
not have sympathy or compassion for the woman, and instead have condescension
and blame. In teaching emotions to children when they are young, a very basic
lesson is that when something tragic happens, such as death or illness, the
proper response is to empathize or shed a tear. It is emotionally stunted to do
anything else. However, this stunted emotional state seems to be the one most
adults are in.
The 3rd degree that women who have had a
miscarriage get is a sign of an unenlightened society that is lacking in
compassion and does not respect the individual. An enlightened society would
seek real answers to why women miscarry and, above all, would have compassion
for the woman who went through that awful experience.
April 7, 2011