Rose Mugisha was excited when a visit to the doctor revealed that she was four weeks pregnant. The mother of two was looking forward to another bundle of joy. Her glee, however, was cut short in the 10th week of her pregnancy.
“I was at work when I started feeling cramps, I went to the bathroom to freshen up and that’s when I realised I was bleeding. I started feeling dizzy and my co-worker rushed me to hospital, by then, there was blood all over my legs. I was frightened, I thought I was dying but what scared me most was the condition of my baby,” Mugisha recalls.
After medical examinations, the heartbreaking news was relayed to her. She had miscarried.
“I never imagined it would happen to me. I was in shock and my hopes of bringing another human being into the world were shattered. I lost my baby and I’ll never get to have the pleasure or privilege of raising it, it breaks my heart every single time I think of it,” she sadly narrates.
What causes a miscarriage?
A miscarriage is the termination of a pregnancy before or up to twenty weeks gestation.
“It can be due to genetic defects of the fetus, incompetent opening of the cervix, smoking, alcohol abuse, hormonal disorders like uncontrolled diabetes, thyroid disturbances, and imbalance of estrogen or progesterone levels amongst other conditions,” explains Dr Rachna Pande, a specialist in internal medicine at Ruhengeri Hospital.
Risk factors to look out for include abdominal pain, cramping, bleeding, fever, back pain, a brown vaginal discharge and general body weakness.
She says that a miscarriage can cause heavy vaginal bleeding, which if uncontrolled, can lead to shock, pelvic infections, high fever, lower abdominal pain and leg cramps, among others.
Due to the intervention during a miscarriage, there are possibilities of an infection occurring due to heavy bleeding, there is also a risk(though very low) of tubes getting blocked, resulting in infertility.
“Some of the conditions leading to a miscarriage are preventable, like quitting alcohol, tobacco, good control of diabetes, thyroid problems. Hormonal supplements in the first few weeks can help to prevent a miscarriage,” Dr Pande says.
If the cause is due to hormonal imbalance or an incompetent cervix that’s to say the lower end of uterus is open, it can be sutured to prevent a miscarriage. If a woman experiences a miscarriage and the cause isn’t rectified, there is a possibility of a recurrent miscarriage if the underlying cause persists.
“After a miscarriage one can conceive immediately but experts advise giving a gap of at least three months before becoming pregnant again. This gives time for the tissues to heal and also psychological recuperation of the woman who is affected,” Dr Pande advises.
Handling the psychological pain
According to Damien Mouzoun, a counselor and CEO of Ayina Think Tank, an organisation that deals with family and relationship problems, when a couple encounters a tragedy like a miscarriage, the intimacy literally experiences a kind of conscience or spiritual vertigo.
When a couple experiences such a misfortune, they can become disoriented and their moral compass can be thrown off but to overcome such a problem, a couple can be helped in various ways.
“We assist such families in renewing themselves constantly in four key areas of life, that is physical, social, mental, and spiritual, and this we do through counseling,” Mouzoun says.
He explains that even men are affected by a miscarriage because a family is a unit and regardless of the relationship that exists between the couple during the incident, the man is affected as well.
A couple needs counseling to be able to get back on its feet both physically and emotionally.
“The emotional healing is actually a lifetime experience, it never really ends and that is why we say that ‘when mores are sufficient, family rules are unnecessary but when mores are insufficient, family rules are unenforceable,” he adds.
Mouzoun advises couples to wait till they are ready to have another baby, and that they should discuss with medical experts on the best time to try again.
What women say
Florence Nyirarukundo, a mother of three, says she narrowly survived a miscarriage.
“I was six weeks pregnant when I had light bleeding, there was nothing complicated so I didn’t go to the doctor.
But a few days later, the bleeding started again. I then decided to go for a checkup and I was told that if I had delayed, there was a possibility that I would have lost my baby,” Nyirarukundo says.
Her baby’s life was saved and she advises expectant mothers to always watch out for signs, however minor, to avoid trouble later.
28-year-old Sharon Umurerwa says that miscarrying is a very painful experience for most women. She says that with the pain of losing a child, they carry guilt, sometimes that their partners make them feel, which worsens the situation.
“Sometimes men blame their wives for conditions like these, this only worsens the situation because the woman’s guilt mounts, which can affect her psychologically. The man needs to be supportive in such a trying time, that way, they get to console each other,” Umurerewa says.
Norah Mutesi says that her sister once miscarried and almost left her husband.
“The condition was too painful for her but what hurt her most was the fact that her husband was not sad enough about the loss of their child,” she says.
“It was through counseling that she understood why her man behaved that way, they prayed and were counseled together and are now healing.”
I SAY: How can one deal with the pain of a miscarriage?
Esperance Mujyawamariya, nurse
The word ‘miscarriage’ alone is painful to a mother’s ears; to those who have experienced it, they are constantly reminded of the loss. No mother can get used to this terrible situation no matter how many times it happens. I believe they are many ways a mother can be on the safe side during pregnancy, for instance, by carrying out early and regular medical checkups, respecting the doctor’s guidelines, and dealing with any health problem as soon as possible.
Louise Hategeka, teacher
Dealing with a miscarriage is no simple thing, but when it happens, you just have to. It is imperative to visit a professional and recommended doctor or institution and carry out a thorough test to scan for any problems. If it happens, a health expert should explain the cause. Since it is most definitely going to leave painful memories, it’s also important to consider counseling to help you deal with your pain.
Aliette Ishimwe, housewife
I think that some people are unaware just how distressing a miscarriage is. I don’t think they understand the grief one goes through for some time. But as a person who has experienced this, I can tell you that it brings unmanageable anguish. From experience, the best way to avoid a miscarriage is to first go for a general body check-up; to be sure your body can keep a baby safe and sound till birth. Get a health check up too. Keep a positive attitude during the pregnancy, stay calm, and wait for God to place the baby in your arms.
Jeanette Uwamahoro, housewife
Miscarriages rob a woman of the privilege to be a mother. Sometimes it happens because of certain problems with either the mother or the baby’s health. Emphasis should be on finding out what went wrong and how it can be fixed so that it doesn’t happen again. Besides, it’s also important for a pregnant woman to have a positive mindset. Should it happen, stay hopeful, things might get better. It’s the best way to deal with the pain of a miscarriage.
Compiled by Dennis AgabaFollow https://twitter.com/DonahMbabazi