Unravelling myths around miscarriages

THE saying that people build myths around what they do not understand cannot be said to be more true than in the case of a pregnancy. Easily one of the most misunderstood topics around, pregnancy has been shrouded with a cape of mystery and countless myths surrounding it.  In a country like Nigeria where the gap between old wife’s tales, myths and science have not been enlarged by education, it is not uncommon to find educated minds fall under the sway of these myths.

There are several myths, some of which have been unravelled include the chronic traditional-themed myths. Pregnant women are advised not to eat certain foods and not to walk in the noon sun. In some extreme cases, they are told to stick on safety pins on their attires to prevent evil spirits from possessing the babies and causing miscarriage. You might grimace at those thoughts but people believed them.

To help debunk the myths that are less traditional in approach, Mum & Child spoke with Dr Ebenezer Olulade, a United Kingdom-licensed medic about the myths around miscarriages:

Having one miscarriage predisposes a woman to miscarriages .

A lot of people including the educated ones believe that a case of miscarriage predisposes a woman to have other miscarriages. From a scientific point of view, this is not true.

A miscarriage carries the impression, not only scientific but social, that something is going wrong with the tenure of a new baby’s presence in the womb of the mother. The causes of a miscarriage will determine largely whether it will likely happen again or not. However, not all miscarriages lead to a fatal loss of the pregnancy.

Threatened miscarriage generally connotes that pathology is harassing the existence of the foetus. This ranges from simple falls, injuries to reduced amounts of pregnancy hormones in the blood to urinary tract infections, to malaria. Exposure to seriously harmful medications and risks such as diabetes, obesity, outrageously large fibroid, and uterine abnormality can result in a threatened miscarriage.

As one would have noticed, some of these reasons are recurrent and if not medically corrected, predisposes one to having another episode of a threatened miscarriage and eventual loss of the pregnancy in subsequent confinements. One cannot say with a degree of certainty that if one had a miscarriage in the first pregnancy, one definitely will, in the second. If the cause for the miscarriage has been successfully treated, and the cause is not a recurrent one, there is no reason why it should reoccur.  If having a urinary tract infection was the cause of the miscarriage, it definitely will not happen again, if there is no infection in the second pregnancy.

Cervical incompetence (a condition where the cervix is too loose and the baby falls right through it to the outside at an advanced gestational age) is a cause of a miscarriage that will continually happen if the patient doesn’t have a procedure to close the leaky cervix during pregnancy. Rhesus negative mothers might continually develop antibodies against their rhesus positive babies, leading to loss of the baby, except they get an antibody injection to stop the process from occurring.

Stress is not known to cause threatened miscarriage; neither is bed rest shown to have a significant contribution to improving the outcome of a threatened miscarriage. This is however is not saying that rest is prohibited during pregnancy.

Frequent ultrasound and injections during pregnancy can trigger miscarriages

Some schools of thought also believe that having frequent ultrasound and injections during pregnancy can trigger miscarriages and lead to the loss of a baby. Yet again, this is only a myth with no scientific backing or proof. Dr Ebenezer explains;

Frequent ultrasound are primarily to date the pregnancy at different stages of the gestation, to find out the gender of the baby, to look for congenital abnormalities the baby/ babies might have and also to monitor the development of the baby over the period it stays in the uterus. The ultrasound scan probe uses sound waves which has high frequency but very low wavelength. It is much like how the bat uses sound waves to locate its direction in the air at dusk. These sound waves are in no way harmful to the humans or the babies they carry. Rather, it is helpful to the clinician to understand how well a foetus is doing inside the womb.

However, for any procedure you are to undergo, the doctor is saddled with the responsibility of explaining how safe it is. Whether it is an injection, or a medication, it is well within your remit to get a confirmation from your doctor about the name of the medication and the fact that it is safe for you and your baby.

We might have been dealing with more myths than we are aware of it is necessary to understand the workings of things and to seek knowledge.

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