On a pregnancy loss message board that I read, a mother posted asking if she was the only one who experience her miscarriage as painful (because no one mentioned it being painful in the stories she had read and she was very shocked by the pain involved). I had a couple of thoughts in response to this question. I also shared my “favorite” miscarriage-birth quote: “Miscarriages are labor, miscarriages are birth. To consider them less dishonors the woman whose womb has held life, however briefly.” (Kathryn Miller Ridiman).
I do think the amount of pain probably depends in part on where you are in the pregnancy. Since a lot of women experience very early miscarriages (less than 7 weeks), I think that is perhaps why you don’t hear them talk about pain. OR, because a lot of women end up having D & C’s and thus do not go through the “natural miscarriage” experience, perhaps that is why pain doesn’t figure heavily into narrative. Or, maybe because there is so much emotional pain involved as well, the physical pain gets overshadowed? That said, my 6-week miscarriage was not physically painful at all (not that it couldn’t be for some women, of course). However, my miscarriage at nearly 15 weeks was indistinguishable from a full-term labor. It was just the same, except with the addition of MASSIVE blood clots following the baby. I value his birth as another birth experience in my life, but at the same time I am SHOCKED that miscarriage is so often overlooked as a birth event that requires tenderness and support (where are the miscarriage doulas and midwives?! While in a way, I feel proud of myself for have an “unassisted” birth-miscarriage, I could have used the care of a knowlegable, caring woman rather than to just be left on my own trying to gauge how much blood loss is normal, etc.)
So, what about “miscarriage doulas” as an idea? I have seriously thought about becoming one. I am trained as a birth doula, but have no interest in actually working as one, but being a m/c doula does interest me a lot. I feel like adding a section to my business website (I’m a childbirth educator) that says, “having a miscarriage? Call me and I’ll come over and rub your back and bring you things to drink…”
I decided two things shortly after my first miscarriage: one, that I was going to write a book specifically about how to deal (i.e. “what to expect when you’re having a miscarriage”), because I felt very betrayed by having this huge wealth of pregnancy, birth, and midwifery books all around me and NONE of them had the information I was looking; And, two, that if anyone was ever to tell me she was in the process of miscarrying I would go to her right away (unfortunately, it seems like people feel like they have to tough it out alone or don’t want to “bother” anyone and so only tell after the fact). Well, if she wanted me to go, obviously, not against her will. And, that would include going to the hospital with her if she needed a m/c doula there, not just for “home miscarriage.”
Thankfully, I had already read a long message board thread about, “what exactly do you see with a miscarriage” long before I ever had a m/c experience of my own, so I knew to expect mine to be like labor and not to be a “heavy period” (OMG, I want to scream when I see miscarriages described like that in books over, and over, and over again! Though, then when I had my second m/c it WAS, in fact, like the mythical heavy period, so then I understood a little better why that was a prevalent descriptor.)