After she had a miscarriage, psychologist Jessica Zucker wanted to help other women tackle the stigma.
Jessica Zucker, M.P.H., Ph.D., was 16 weeks pregnant with her second child when she had a miscarriage in 2012. Zucker, a Los Angeles-based psychologist specializing in women’s reproductive and maternal mental health, had spent almost a decade treating women after pregnancy loss. But it wasn’t until it happened to her that she truly understood the stigma and silence surrounding miscarriages. After her own pregnancy loss, she set about telling her own story through essays and using the hashtag #IHadAMiscarriage. In 2015, she started the @IHadAMiscarriage Instagram account, where women can submit their own stories of pregnancy loss.
Sadly, miscarriages are incredibly common. But women often feel alone when it actually happens to them.
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), 10 percent of clinically recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage, and many more people will lose a pregnancy before they even knew they were expecting. Most miscarriages happen in the first trimester, and as ACOG notes, around 50 percent are caused by chromosomal abnormalities.
Zucker’s own traumatic miscarriage happened in her second trimester. “My first pregnancy was smooth and simple and fine,” she says. “All the while I was coming across women in my practice talking about miscarriage, stillbirth, infant loss…. It didn’t pique my anxiety, I felt like I would be fine. Several years later we decided to try again. We got pregnant again quickly but at 16 weeks, I started spotting.”
She went into labor and delivered alone at home, cut the umbilical cord herself, and began hemorrhaging. Her husband returned home and rushed her to the hospital, where she underwent an unmedicated dilation and curettage to remove the placenta and the remnants of the pregnancy.
“Two hours later I went back to my house and was no longer pregnant,” Zucker recalls. “That was pretty much the most profound thing that ever happened in my life. The most traumatic.”
Medical tests revealed the fetus had chromosomal abnormalities, and Zucker would likely have made the decision to terminate had she known this. She and her husband began trying again when they were ready, and she eventually gave birth to a rainbow baby. “I was [debilitated], psychologically, through my subsequent pregnancy,” Zucker says. “Pregnancy after loss…you’re basically returning to the very place of your trauma. You are meant to be there for nine months, every single day.”
Zucker’s own experience informed her clinical practice going forward. “My loss really scared a lot of my patients and comforted other people,” she says. “In the most profound way it changed my lens on my work. I was able to understand these women from the inside out now.”
Ever since her pregnancy loss, Zucker has worked to spread awareness about just how common miscarriages are and help women deal with their feelings of shame and helplessness.
“My personal experience was a way to model for other women around the world that there is absolutely no shame in loss,” she says. “The research overwhelmingly points to women experiencing shame, self-blame, and guilt following pregnancy and loss. I had to really think it through. As a psychologist, you don’t typically share the details of your life. But [pregnancy loss] doesn’t mean anything about who you are, or your body being a failure.”
Each year in October, Zucker commemorates National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month with a project. One year she released a line of sympathy cards specifically designed for women who have lost a pregnancy; another she made T-shirts encouraging women to have intergenerational conversations with their mothers and grandmothers about miscarriages. Through her Instagram account and the #IHadAMiscarriage hashtag, Zucker hopes to show other women that they are absolutely not alone.
“By putting it out there in the world and sharing it with women globally, people then feel this sense of recognition and a robust community,” she says. “I don’t have to know you, because it’s social media, but I know those feelings so well. In so many of comments or messages people say, ‘I could have written this myself.’ Part of the point is to really show that we’re more similar than we think.”
Check out some of the stunning posts from @IHadAMiscarriage below.
View original post here – http://www.self.com/story/antidepressant-use-during-pregnancy