Infertility and miscarriage affect many individuals and couples around the world. In fact, it is estimated that 26% of pregnancies end in miscarriage or pregnancy loss. So, why don't we talk about it more?
The stigmas surrounding infertility and miscarriage are often what prevents individuals and couples from sharing their experiences. However, this lack of conversation is what makes these very common life events feel so isolating. Often we feel a sense of guilt, shame or failure when we
go through fertility struggles or experience a miscarriage.
Could I have done something differently?
Is it my fault?
What is wrong with me?
No. No. And nothing at all. Facing stigma happens when our society/community is not well informed or educated. It's not your fault when this happens.
As much as it may seem, the path to parenthood isn't a smooth, straight path. For more than we think– the trek to parenthood is an uphill battle with bumps in the road and twists and turns. There isn't a "one-size-fits-all" when it comes to fertility. There is no simple way to explain why or how and there is no one to blame. Many of the stigmas and phrases that are commonly used regarding fertility and pregnancy loss can feel demoralizing and can cause a great deal of psychological hurt and pain–in addition to the grief you are already experiencing. It is not helpful nor is it productive. Stigmas can also hold you back from gaining the support you actually need.
In this article, we are going to discuss and debunk some of the common stigmas or false ideologies around infertility and miscarriage:
"It's your fault" & placing blame
When an individual suffers a miscarriage or a couple is having difficulty conceiving, we tend to place the blame on them, even unintentionally. The way society encourages advice and support in these instances insinuates that there is someone at fault for an event that most times could not have been prevented. Saying things like, "have you tried..." or "maybe it's because you..." implies that the individual could have done something differently to reach conception or prevent the miscarriage.
How can we overcome this stigma?
A great way to combat feelings of guilt would be to remind yourself that it is not your fault. Rather than being around people who give you "have you tried..." statements, try surrounding yourself with others on the journey. Building connections with others who have experienced what you are going through and being able to share your story with people who understand will help get rid of those feelings of isolation and normalize the conversation around infertility and miscarriage. In community we gather out of isolation and out of stigma.
Infertility & miscarriage are women's issues
Along with placing blame in these scenarios, the blame is usually placed on women or the individual in the relationship that would carry the baby. The stigma that infertility and miscarriage are caused by and only affect women and people with uteruses is false. Infertility can affect any person of any gender. Additionally, sperm quality plays a large role in miscarriages.
How do we overcome this stigma?
Education plays a crucial role in ending the stigma that attributes infertility and miscarriage to women. Even something as simple as sharing your journey with others can help break the stigma and inform others. Knowledge is powerful for people in your life to be there for you.
You should continue life as normal after experiencing a pregnancy loss or infertility
Going through fertility struggles or the loss of a pregnancy is traumatic. We should not expect people to continue on as if none of these events are happening. Miscarriages and infertility affect you physically, emotionally and psychologically. There is so much grief, distress, anxiety, sadness and infertility trauma attached to these events, how could we ever just go on with life after experiencing something so life altering?
How do we address this stigma?
Letting yourself feel anger, injustice, sadness. Recognize that what you are experiencing has an effect on you and allow yourself time to grieve and heal. Stigmas are painful, isolating, part of why we are at risk of infertility trauma, depression and anxieties.
For more information on how to address stigmas, follow us on Instagram: @moonstonefertilitywellness