Approximately one quarter of all pregnancies will not end with a newborn swaddled on their mother’s chest. This reality is a sobering statistic to anyone who is pregnant or hoping to be. When you see “I am 1 in 4” on social media for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, it’s important to understand what it means and why it can be helpful to share about these experiences.
National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is observed annually on October 15. The day is meant to raise awareness of just how common it is to experience pregnancy loss and infant death. This includes all types of pregnancy loss; miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and newborn death, as well as pregnancy termination due to medical reasons.
When a celebrity like Chrissy Teigen or the Duchess of Sussex shares their personal experience with miscarriage and infant loss, the comments on social media are often flooded with voices of support, empathy, and acknowledgment that they, too, have been there. Just talking openly with others about the experience of having a miscarriage can help de-stigmatize it, quell feelings of doubt or shame, and simply let other moms know they’re not alone as they start the healing process. Sharing the “I am 1 in 4” sentiment does the same.
How common are miscarriages?
Different organizations and research centers cite various statistics about the commonality of miscarriage. Here’s what just a handful of sources report:
- “Early pregnancy loss is common, occurring in 10% of all clinically recognized pregnancies,” according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG).
- “As many as half of all pregnancies may end in miscarriage. We don’t know the exact number because a miscarriage may happen before a woman knows she’s pregnant,” The March of Dimes reported.
- “Lots of people experience this kind of pregnancy loss. In fact, 10 to 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage,” Planned Parenthood reported.
- “About 10 to 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. But the actual number is likely higher because many miscarriages occur very early in pregnancy — before you might even know about a pregnancy,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
- “Among women who know they are pregnant, about 10% to 25% will have a miscarriage,” according to the National Health Institute’s National Library of Medicine.
The widely-used term “clinically recognized pregnancies” suggests that not all miscarriages are reported. In fact, some providers won’t even see a pregnant patient before the 8-week mark, so it makes sense that miscarriages likely happen more often than what reported data shows.
When you take this all into consideration, stating that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriages sums up the data pretty well. This statistic is where the phrase “I am 1 in 4” comes from. Whether you see it in a hashtag, as a photo caption, or hear it in a video shared online, it means that the person who has shared the message has experienced a miscarriage or another type of pregnancy loss.
Do miscarriages affect fertility or future pregnancies?
Having a miscarriage does not mean that you can’t or won’t get pregnant again. A miscarriage also doesn’t usually indicate an inability to carry future pregnancies to term. However, the emotional and physical toll that the experience takes on a person does lend itself to concerns about fertility and future pregnancies. In short, it’s normal to worry, but the statistics are on your side.
“Most people (87%) who have miscarriages have subsequent normal pregnancies and births,” the Cleveland Clinic reported. In 2020, Romper interviewed two physicians on the subject of miscarriage to conclude that pregnancy loss happens for a variety of reasons and those reasons are not always linked to general health or fertility. “Both Dr. Swigert and Dr. Winston stress the importance of knowing that pregnancy losses are usually out of a person's control and are a result of biology,” Romper previously reported.
Why is it important to share the “I am 1 in 4” message?
Even if you’ve never experienced pregnancy loss first-hand, the fact that it’s so common means you absolutely know someone who has — even if you aren’t aware of it. Think about it this way; if 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage and many women are pregnant more than once, the odds that you or someone you know will experience a loss are high.
My own circle of close childhood friends forms a group of four. Out of this close-knit group, we have seen two through multiple miscarriages and one through a stillborn birth. The support that comes from having someone who has been through the unthinkable say simply, “I’ve been there, too,” can help make the weight of grief just a bit lighter. And when that grief covers you like a sopping wet blanket, every tiny ounce that you don’t have to shoulder alone matters.
The nation at-large is at war over bodily autonomy and the right to choose, and the voices of those who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss can easily be drowned out in battle. Reproductive health care is a basic human right. Part of fighting for that right can and should include spreading awareness about how common it is to lose a pregnancy without any choice to be made or way to stop the pain that loss brings. In a 2019 Romper essay, writer Jane Kirby compared the experiences of miscarriage and abortion this way: “Many women and pregnant people will experience loss, and while these experiences undoubtedly differ in many respects, they are often experiences marked by feelings of stigma, shame, and lack of support.”
Those who experience pregnancy loss need community and support to weather the storm, and those who have been through it know better than anyone how to provide it. We can all do our part to share kindness, strength, hope, and love to those going through the journey.
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