Having a miscarriage is a devastating loss, but what can make matters worse is that people rarely talk about it, which often results in sufferers feeling isolated. What’s more, there’s so much confusion surrounding what actually causes a miscarriage and how common pregnancy loss really is, leaving many women unnecessarily blaming themselves for an event that, in the vast majority of cases, is completely beyond their control.
To help shed some light on miscarriage and allay fears, we asked top experts to talk about the most common misconceptions about pregnancy loss. Here’s what they told us.
Myth #1: Miscarriages are rare.
They’re actually surprisingly common, particularly within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. “As many as fifty percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage in the first trimester,” Fahimeh Sasan, an ob/gyn at The Mount Sinai Hospital, tells SELF. “Most people don’t realize how common it is because most people don’t talk about it.” According to the latest data from the CDC, there were about 1 million miscarriages in 2010 alone.
Myth #2: Miscarriages can be triggered by stress or heavy lifting.
This myth is a pervasive one. Case in point: A 2013 survey of more than 1,000 women and men conducted by researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center found that 76 percent of people believe that a stressful event can trigger a miscarriage, while 64 percent think that lifting a heavy object can cause one. Even 21 percent think that you could have a miscarriage just from getting into an argument with someone. But the most common cause is something that’s often beyond your control: genetics. “Most miscarriages are due to a chromosomal abnormality,” Lynn Westphal, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford University School of Medicine and Stanford Children’s Health. Many early miscarriages happen because the fetus has an extra or missing chromosome, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).
Myth #3: Drinking a cup of coffee can put your pregnancy at risk.
While you shouldn’t be guzzling coffee by the bucketful, it’s safe to have a cup of joe while pregnant. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, moderate caffeine consumption—namely, less than 200 milligrams per day—does not appear to be a major contributing factor in miscarriage. To put that in perspective, 8 ounces of brewed coffee has about 137 milligrams of caffeine. Just be sure to stop at one or two cups per day: Research shows that more than that amount may actually up your miscarriage risk.
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