Mark Zuckerberg announced on Friday that he and his wife Priscilla Chan are having a baby girl. In the midst of the happy announcement, he spoke of the emotional pain of suffering three previous miscarriages.
Zuckerberg candidly talked about the loneliness that he and his wife endured during the pregnancy.
“Most people don’t discuss miscarriages because you worry your problems will distance you or reflect upon you — as if you’re defective or did something to cause this, so you struggle on your own.” wrote Zuckerberg on his Facebook post.
Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg for bringing attention to the issue of grief and loss accompanied by miscarriage. His high-profile post creates safety for others to share their stories and in turn reduced the stigma of pregnancy loss.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 10-25% of all pregnancies will end in miscarriage. 50-75% of all miscarriages are chemical miscarriages (early stage of pregnancy before it can be detected by ultrasound).
Miscarriage is traumatic. I know this on a personal level because I too have had a miscarriage. Most women undergo the feelings of grief and loss after a miscarriage. It’s well-documented that women who have experienced pregnancy loss can also get “postpartum depression”. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, about 11 percent of women who had a miscarriage suffered from major depression following the event. There is no doubt that women who have experienced pregnancy loss need additional support from family, friends and medical community.
Since miscarriage is common and the emotional consequence is serious, why aren’t we talking more about it openly? Stigma – miscarriage is a taboo topic for many people. Many people are not comfortable hearing about it. Most do not know how to respond when someone tells them about miscarriage, and therefore we don’t want to burden our loved ones with the sad news when we experience the loss.
Another reason we don’t talk about miscarriage is that traditionally it is thought of as a “woman issue.” Society holds women responsible for everything related to child birth. When a woman experiences a miscarriage, our society doles out implicit blame that it’s somehow the mother’s fault. Women internalize this message, and may subconsciously blame themselves for the loss. Why would women speak up when we are the blame for the misfortune? Why would men listen when it’s thought of as a “woman issue”? It may sound sexist, but it’s also a reality.
Mark Zuckerberg’s post brings awareness to four things; 1) miscarriages happen often, 2) miscarriage is emotionally painful, 3) this emotional pain affects both men and women and 4) we need to talk about it. Throughout times women talk among themselves about the pain of miscarriage, but there can’t be meaningful discussions and true compassion for this frequent pain until more men join in the conversation. And I am glad we are heading to the right direction.
(Image source: Facebook)
Mabel Yiu is a Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in girls’ and women’s mental health at the Women’s Therapy Institute in Palo Alto, CA. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more tips or tools, or schedule an online appointment.