Model and author Chrissy Teigen is speaking out about the mental health struggles she’s facing after suffering a miscarriage in September.
The 34-year-old tweeted on Wednesday that she’s been off social media lately because she’s in “a bit of a grief depression hole” but assured her followers she has help, and will be better soon. People responded to Teigen’s tweet sharing their own stories of grief after a miscarriage, and thanked her for helping to destigmatize it.
Teigen, who has been open about her fertility struggles in the past, wrote an essay in October detailing the complications that caused doctors to induce labor at 20 weeks. Her powerful essay describes the experience and grief she and husband John Legend felt after losing their son, Jack.
The essay followed the raw photo she shared of her in the hospital after her stillbirth — something she said she needed to do for “the people who have lived this or are curious enough to wonder what something like this is like.”
More public figures are speaking out about the pain of miscarriages in the hopes of normalizing it.
Meghan Markle penned an op-ed in the New York Times on Wednesday revealing she suffered a miscarriage in July, and that she and husband Prince Harry were deeply affected by grief.
“Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few,” Markle wrote.
“In the pain of our loss, my husband and I discovered that in a room of 100 women, 10 to 20 of them will have suffered from miscarriage. Yet despite the staggering commonality of this pain, the conversation remains taboo, riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning.”
Causes of miscarriages
Miscarriage refers to the loss of a pregnancy during the first 20 weeks, and is often the body’s way of ending a pregnancy that had a bad start, according to government health agency HealthlinkBC. Only about one per cent of miscarriages happen after 20 weeks.
Harvard Health points out that the term “stillbirth” is typically used in instances when a fetus is delivered beyond 20 weeks, but is not living.
Miscarrying is very common, the BC government agency says, estimating about one in six people who know they are pregnant will experience a miscarriage. As Markle’s essay stated, Planned Parenthood says approximately 10 to 20 per cent of pregnancies end in miscarriage.
There are various causes of miscarriage, but the Cleveland Clinic reports that about half of all lost pregnancies that occur in the first trimester are caused by “chromosomal abnormalities — which might be hereditary or spontaneous — in the father’s sperm or the mother’s egg.”
Other possible causes include age, certain diseases, like severe diabetes or kidney disease, and infection.
Symptoms of miscarriage and treatment
Experiencing a miscarriage can be distressing for people. When people have a miscarriage, bleeding and cramps are common and can last for one to two weeks, HealthlinkBC says. For people who suspect they’ve miscarried, a healthcare provider will often perform a pelvic exam and ultrasound, or run blood tests to confirm the pregnancy loss.
In Markle’s essay, the Duchess of Sussex wrote that she felt a sharp cramp before going to hospital.
Pregnancy tissue will pass on its own in many cases, but sometimes medical or surgical management is needed to clear remaining tissue from the uterus. In situations where there are complications or health risks, as Teigen described, medical intervention may be needed.
Teigen wrote how she was diagnosed with partial placenta abruption, and after experiencing heavy bleeding, she was told by her doctor that her child wouldn’t survive, “and if it went on any longer, I might not either.”
“We had tried bags and bags of blood transfusions, every single one going right through me like we hadn’t done anything at all,” she wrote.
After the physical miscarriage, it can take time to emotionally recover, the U.K.’s Miscarriage Association says. Many people experience a wide range of emotions, including sadness, grief, shock, confusion, anger and numbness.
Some people like to find a special way to remember their child and mark the loss, with special ceremonies or creating a memory box, the association says.
Talking about the loss also helps, and helps shed the stigma. As Teigen wrote in her essay: “I wrote this because I knew for me I needed to say something before I could move on from this and return back to life, so I truly thank you for allowing me to do so.”
“Jack will always be loved, explained to our kids as existing in the wind and trees and the butterflies they see.”
It’s important people take care of their mental health after experiencing a miscarriage and seek support if they’re struggling. If you or someone you know needs support, resources are available at The MotHERS Program, Sunnybook Health Sciences Centre,and the Provincial Council for Maternal and Child Health.
Laura Hensley is a writer for Healthing.ca
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