Today's BBC article: "Miscarriage can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder"(1 Post)
I just read the BBC article at www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-37833287
in which doctors at the Imperial College London report that "at their early pregnancy loss clinic a third of the women have PTSD symptoms." The article also mentions that "after a healthy pregnancy, all women get screened for depression at their six-week check. But following a miscarriage, there are no routine emotional checks."
I then had a look at the comments, some of which were very hostile and aggressive. I typed the comment below, but have been unable to post it at BBC due to their low maximum word count. I just wanted to agree with the article in that more should be done to ensure that those who need extra support can get it through the NHS.
I had unexplained recurrent first-trimester miscarriages (defined as at least 3 miscarriages, which affects about 1% of couples, I think) and my husband and I thought we could not have children. It was like a prolonged nightmare and I have little memory of those dark years. I remember though that the GPs were always friendly, but unfortunately, the paramedics and nurses often seemed very cold, sometimes even rude, and it was often difficult to access ultrasound scans in case of bleeding, because my first scan had usually been more or less normal.
Once, for example, I had lost so much blood I instructed the taxi driver who brought me to the hospital to tell the staff that I was pregnant in case I would lose consciousness. When I arrived, I was initially refused an ultrasound, because I had only had a scan two days ago, during which I had seen the foetus struggling to survive right next to the source of bleeding. I was almost relieved when the scan showed that his/her fight was over (at 11 months), although I always found it horrible to carry a dead foetus in my ‘insufficient’ womb until I got a slot for a surgical management. Each time, at least six different persons asked me again and again for the dates of all my past miscarriages, and duly typed them into the computer, but for some reason never retrieved them again.
A friend of mine still has flashbacks of the image of a foetus that she had to flush down the toilet.
There is often lot of self-stigma involved, and we didn’t tell anybody about this, apart from my mother and one of my sisters’. I then tried to enrol into the PROMIS trial, a research study that tested if Progesterone could help prevent miscarriage in eligible women, but for some reason they never got back to me after my GP had submitted all my lab results. I therefore got Progesterone privately, which was very expensive, but so much worth it, as I had two consecutive healthy pregnancies (during which I dreaded going to the toilet for 9 months, as I was so scared to discover blood).
We have two lovely children now (aged 4 and 2), and meanwhile three of my friends also finally have children thanks to Progesterone, although the PROMIS trial did not show positive results for some reason – maybe they did not capture those women for whom it can work for eligibility or stratification reasons, but I still think it is worth a try.
I am a very anxious mother, as I have lost the trust that “all will be fine” and fear that our children may still be taken from us. I have also a kind of “survivor guilt” towards all those, who cannot have children for whatever reasons and pray that they can somehow move on. I never ask anyone if they have children.
I would not say that I have a PTSD, although it is true that I probably have had or might still have some of the symptoms, such as flashbacks. I also would not dare to try to “compete” with persons who have a full-blown PTSD after having lived through much more horrible events, such as those that my husband often sees, who works in Psychiatry, or the ones I learned about during my work on humanitarian crisis and countries in civil war.
I think one of the many symptoms of PTSD and generalized anxiety is irritability, which is maybe why some of the comments in response to the BBC article seem so aggressive. It is sad, as it seems to show how much need there is for counselling and therapy not only for those who have experienced miscarriages, but also all those who have experienced other types of trauma and distress, especially those with full-blown PTSD.
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