Kolkata, Mar 14: Losing a baby in pregnancy through miscarriage or stillbirth is still a taboo subject worldwide, linked to stigma and shame.
Many women still do not receive appropriate and respectful care when their baby dies during pregnancy or childbirth. Miscarriage is the most common reason for losing a baby during pregnancy. Estimates vary, although March of Dimes, an organization that works on maternal and child health, indicates a miscarriage rate of 10-15 per cent in women who knew they were pregnant.
Pregnancy loss is defined differently around the world, but in general a baby who dies before 28 weeks of pregnancy is referred to as a miscarriage, and babies who die at or after 28 weeks are stillbirths. Every year, 2.6 million babies are stillborn, and many of these deaths are preventable. However, miscarriages and stillbirths are not systematically recorded, even in developed countries, suggesting that the numbers could be even higher.
Around the world, women have varied access to healthcare services, and hospitals and clinics in many countries are very often under-resourced and understaffed. As varied as the experience of losing a baby may be, around the world, stigma, shame and guilt emerge as common themes.
As these first-person accounts show, women who lose their babies are made to feel that should stay silent about their grief, either because miscarriage and stillbirth are still so common, or because they are perceived to be unavoidable. All of this takes an enormous toll on women. Many women who lose a baby in pregnancy can go
on to develop mental health issues that last for months or years– even when they have gone on to have healthy babies. Cultural and societal attitudes to losing a baby can vary tremendously around the globe. In sub-Saharan Africa, a common belief is that a baby might be stillborn because of witchcraft or evil spirits.
There are many reasons why a miscarriage may happen, including fetal abnormalities, the age of the mother, and infections, many of which are preventable such as malaria and syphilis, though pinpointing the exact reason is often challenging. UNI