In this week’s episode we are discussing miscarriage and loss,so before we go any further we are putting a trigger warning firmly in place here.
If you’re not feeling strong today, then maybe wait and listen another day, or make sure you have lots of support around you as our guest does go into detail of her own loss. Please know, you can always reach out to us on our socials if you need a bit of extra support and please do also have a look at our previous miscarriage series on The Fertility Podcast website where we detail more information about the support available.
We start off by chatting about the developments around the world when it comes to miscarriage policy. New Zealand is the second country in the world to provide women and their partners with 3 days of paid leave following a miscarriage or stillbirth, which is amazing! Interestingly, India was the first country to support couples in this way. Let’s hope this is the start of more countries following suit!
You may well have seen that Tommy’s have published the results of their survey with fascinating and shocking stats including the link between depression and miscarriage.
Our episode starts with a snippet from a previous conversation we had previously with Dr. Ingrid Granne – researcher and associate professor in reproductive medicine at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
We asked Ingrid why miscarriage happens. She tells us that the most common cause of miscarriage is due to chromosomal problems in the early days and weeks following conception. Chromosome issues are heavily correlated with maternal age. If you’re in your 20’s you have a 1:10 chance of miscarriage but by 45yrs it's 1:2 risk of a miscarriage. Other causes are medical conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes and thyroid issues. Being overweight increases your risk but we don’t really understand why. There also seem to be some genetic factors that may predispose some women to miscarriage. There are also implantation factors, possibly related to hormones and immune factors.
Natalie asks Ingrid about malefactors. She says that paternal age can impact miscarriage risk but not to the same extent as maternal age. She goes on to explain that the DNA of the sperm can also impact. There is more and more information and research coming out with regards to male factors and DNA fragmentation.
Next up we chat to Jessica Zucker – a psychologist who specializes in reproductive and maternal mental health. She is the founder of ‘I had a miscarriage campaign’ and has just released a book too. Welcome to Jessica!
Jessica focuses on the mental health impact of suffering from a miscarriage. Jessica shares her experience of miscarrying at 16 weeks. A traumatic experience that occurred whilst alone at home and transformed both her professional and personal life. She talks about her ‘failure to allow herself to fall apart. She miscarried on a Thursday and assumed that she would be right back at work on Monday. Jessica says that the failure to allow yourself to fall apart is, in part, survival instinct. Just to keep going. She says she at that time, she couldn’t allow herself to slow down as this would mean being closer to her pain.
Professionally, having her miscarriage, showed Jessica just how much she didn’t understand about the emotions her patients would be going through and that this was incredibly enlightening.
Next, we talk about sex and miscarriage. Sex can be the last thing you want to think about following a miscarriage. How do you regain that intimacy with your partner? Jessica has interviewed people about returning to sex to see if grief and pleasure can co-exist. She has also investigated masturbation and self-pleasure; can this too co-exist with grief? Jessica says this an under-the-talked aspect of life after loss and it’s important to investi