Saturday, June 23, 2012


Miscarriage and stillbirth are not interchangeable terms.

Nothing irritates me more than when I hear someone describe a full term stillbirth as a "miscarriage".

Especially when a woman says it.

While one is not necessarily more pleasant than the other, to those who are not part of this life it seems that calling a loss a miscarriage is their way of glossing over the horror that is a stillbirth.

It is horrible. Probably the most horrific thing one could ever experience. Imagine having a dead person inside of you. Imagine having to endure hours of physical pain to deliver a child you know is already dead. It is unimaginable to most people.

I was "lucky" enough to be spared many of the horrors of stillbirth (I was unconscious when my dead child was delivered) but I still bear the scars from my experience.

Maybe that is why even now, more than four years after my daughter died and was born, I still feel my pulse raise when I read something that insults those of us who have suffered a stillbirth.

There has been a shit-storm here in Michigan because two female legislators dared say the word "vagina" on the House floor. The whole thing is ridiculous, and actually embarrassing to our state. While I was reading a column about this issue I was surprised disappointed to read this: (I underlined the offending passage)

"The bill that passed the House last week would shut down most abortion providers in the state. But the GOP leadership tabled other legislation that outlawed abortion past 20 weeks, which could mean mothers who miscarry would have to deliver a stillborn baby..."

Would you believe a woman wrote this?

I wrote the author a scathing note, which she has yet to rely to. Part of my note said:

"For the record, a miscarriage is defined as a spontaneous loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy. A pregnancy loss after the 20th week is called a preterm delivery. Miscarried and stillborn are not interchangeable terms.

A woman who miscarries has options for delivery, even under the proposed legislation, because a miscarriage happens before the 20th week. A women who experiences neonatal death after the 20th week of pregnancy will always have to deliver her child."

and I ended it with:

"You are a woman (and a mother), you should know all of this.

I don't agree with this legislation, but not presenting the facts correctly does nothing to help our cause."

Maybe I was overreacting, but I don't think so. Thousands of people read this column, and they are reading this and are lead to think that miscarriage and stillborn are the same thing, when in fact they are very different.

They are both horrible. But different.


Jayme said...

That is one of my biggest pet peeves too!

Kara said...

I always hate that line! How do they think that dead baby is coming out anyway? Whether there's a law or not, birth is the only option and it's not an abortion when the baby has already passed! Ugh I won't even get started!

Anonymous said...

My daughter was born still.
She was born, and she was still, completely still.
On the other hand, she was completely still, but she was born.
We got to see her, and hold her, and bond with her as best we could. We are extremely grateful for that opportunity, particularly since we had 24 weeks to look forward to meeting her and anticipate her arrival before she was born.
There is definitely a difference between a stillbirth and a miscarriage.

Stephanie said...

You know all this terminology is BS anyway. If you want to be technical about it, I had a miscarriage at 7wks but my baby still left my body dead. I am in NO WAY comparing the pain of labor to the pain of miscarriage. Just saying whether it's 10wks, 20wks, 30wks, etc, the baby died and needs to be birthed. I personally think the 20wk cutoff is bull. A 18wk baby still needs to be delivered and is of significant size. UGH these Drs try to put babyloss into cute little packages so it makes it easier for them to fill out the paperwork. The fact still remains, my baby died inside of me and must be delivered one way or another.

Rebecca said...

The terminology bothers me as well. My son died when he was 7 weeks old. When I was pregnant with my subsequent child I had to go to the ER one night and the nurse kept referring to my "prior miscarriage." She just assumed that since I said he was deceased that I must have had a pregnancy loss. It was important for me to correct her. I don't know why I felt that way, but I did. I've had a miscarriage and I've lost a son to SIDS. Both were very different kinds of losses. I think grouping all of the different losses together can be dangerous because they're really not interchangeable.

Rebecca Patrick-Howard