Recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL), also referred to as recurrent miscarriage, is a disease characterized by two or more failed pregnancies. Less than 5% of women will experience 2 consecutive miscarriages before 20 weeks of gestation. While having one miscarriage is unfortunately quite common, having two or more is not. Less than 5% of women will experience 2 consecutive miscarriages and only 1% experience three or more.
When the cause of RPL is unknown, a thorough medical evaluation is recommended. According to the Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Fact sheet from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), there are different reasons why someone may experience RPL including genetic and chromosomal causes, age, anatomical challenges in the uterus, lifestyle and environmental factors, and untreated medical conditions. Treatment options can include surgery, medicine, correcting other medical problems, genetic screening, and change in lifestyle. However for over 50% of couples with recurrent losses, medical evaluation may not result in an explanation.
Grief & Loss
Pregnancy loss, no matter at what length of gestation, can be a deeply emotional experience, often resulting in grief, sadness, depression or anxiety. This can be particularly true if the pregnancy comes after infertility and/or if there are recurrent losses. The psychological health of those affected and seeking help are critical.
The Mourner’s Bill of Rights by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.
- You have the right to experience your own unique grief.
- You have the right to talk about your grief.
- You have the right to feel a multitude of emotions.
- You have the right to be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits.
- You have the right to experience “griefbursts”.
- You have the right to make use of ritual.
- You have the right to embrace your spirituality.
- You have the right to search for meaning.
- You have the right to treasure your memories.
- You have the right to move toward your grief and heal.
Be Prepared for Days When… by Andie Werner Insoft, LICSW
- You receive phone calls or mail offering you baby services (i.e. diapers, magazines, photos)
- You see other pregnant women or babies
- Your due date arrives
- You visit your obstetritican for a follow up appointment
- The anniversary date of your loss arrives (the anniversary of the time of conception, first ultrasound, etc… may be difficult)
- There is a large family gathering or holiday celebration
- You get an invitation to a baby shower
- Baby announcements arrive from friends or relatives
- You see television commercials or programs relating to babies
- You walk down the aisle at the supermarket that has baby products
- You see advertisements for prenatal classes
- You meet people who don’t know what has happened
- You tell someone about your miscarriage and they respond insensitively
- Your own birthday arrives
There may be other situations that cause you to feel particularly sad some days. This is certainly normal. Allow yourself to avoid painful events. Seek out the support of your partner, as well as friends and family through your grief.
Miscarriages take a toll on the body. Whether the fetal tissue was expelled on its own or you underwent a D&C (dilation & curettage) procedure, your body will need time to heal. During this time, take note to support this healing with proper nutrition and rest. If you perceive any complications after a miscarriage, seek medical attention right away.
Helpful links & Support
RESOLVE New England Pregnancy Loss Support Group
Newton Wellesley Hospital Childbirth Loss Support Group, 617-243-6221
Bad Luck: That could not be the end of my Story by Julie Paige Richardson
How To Be A Friend To Someone Who Has Had A Miscarriage by Rachel Wilkerson Miller
Nora Therapeutics: Dedicated to improving reproductive medicine
This section of the RNE website is made possible in part by support from Nora Therapeutics.