It is a simple fact that many pregnancies end in miscarriage.
The likelihood that a pregnancy will end is about 25% if we consider all pregnancies — even very early ones. The rate could be even higher if we consider those pregnancies that are barely detectable. What this means is that a very large share of women will have a miscarriage at some point. With a 25% miscarriage rate, if a woman has three pregnancies, there is close to a 60% chance she will miscarry one of them.
Miscarriage is more common for older women, and when we talk about early — first-trimester — miscarriage, a very large share (more than half, perhaps as much as 90%) of cases are caused by a chromosomal problem. Most of these miscarriages happen at random; that is, they are not part of a larger pattern of fertility problems.
Despite this reality, miscarriage is so infrequently discussed that you would not be faulted for thinking it is rare. Before I had children, I recall learning that a close friend had experienced a miscarriage in the past and thinking, “Wow, I can’t believe I know someone who has miscarried.” But as more and more of my friends began getting pregnant, I realized it wasn’t unusual at all.
The secrecy is troubling, as it leaves many women feeling alone, isolated, and unsupported during what is already a traumatic time.
The trouble is that because the risk of pregnancy loss is high, many people do not share news of a pregnancy until the period when miscarriage risk is highest has passed — around 12 or 13 weeks. This may or may not be a good convention, but it means that miscarriage has taken on an air of secrecy. The secrecy is troubling, as it leaves many women feeling alone, isolated, and unsupported during what is already a traumatic time.
One piece of missing support is emotional. But there is also a lack of practical discussion. When it comes to live childbirth, people like nothing more than to provide details about the methods they choose to use — epidural or…