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October: Infant & Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month

This month is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month.

I’ve experienced pregnancy loss hundreds of times. Is it the same experience as actually going through one physically and emotionally? Of course not. But as the person giving the news, it ends up being an experience for me too. One that can happen multiple times a week.

I do my own first trimester ultrasounds in the office. Once I see the picture, it takes me about half a second to know what is going on. But patients don’t often realize right away. When I see a miscarriage on ultrasound, what goes through my head in the few seconds before I start talking is a sad, mental, deep breath. How am I going to break the news? What does this woman need to hear? How much will she remember of what I’m going to say?

I think women need honesty, not sugar-coated false hope. I usually start by “I’m so sorry I don’t have good news for you…” briefly point out what I see, and then stop. Some women need the time to process, some need to see the ultrasound screen longer than others. Some need a more scientific explanation. Some need to be left alone. Some need answers that I can rarely give. Some need a whole box of tissues and some already knew before they came in for the appointment. Time allows you to figure out who needs what.

I’ve learned along the years to not act all happy in the beginning. Going from chirpy excitement, to subdued sad news is not easy, it’s not natural, it feels strange. So I keep it business as usual until I know what’s going on. Obstetric history, medical history, etc. Once I see that little heartbeat, I relax. I get excited for them. Only then, do we talk about the rest of the pregnancy. No one wants to hear about vitamins, stretch marks, and labor if their 8 week embryo doesn’t have a heartbeat.

This has been a hard couple of years in the office in this regard. There’s been a lot more bad news lately across all trimesters. Why? I can’t say for sure. But my heart breaks for every one of you.

What has helped you at the doctors office when you found out about your miscarriage?

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