Women are using Instagram to cope with miscarriage distress

Women are using Instagram to cope with miscarriage distress

New York: Despite its common occurrence, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding miscarriage and many women find that their emotional and psychological needs are unmet as they go through a devastating grieving process. But for some, Instagram has emerged as a tool to cope with such distress, a study says.

The study, published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, found that the content posted by Instagram users included rich descriptions of the medical and physical experiences of miscarriage, and the emotional spectrum of having a miscarriage and coping with those emotions, the social aspect, and family identity.

"I find it endlessly fascinating that women are opening up to essentially strangers about things that they hadn't even told their partners or families," says Dr Riley. "But this is how powerful this community is," said Amy Henderson Riley, assistant professor at Jefferson College of Population Health, Thomas Jefferson University, US.

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this is postpartum. while i’m not looking to post this picture for sympathy or attention but to discuss an issue that goes silent and makes many uncomfortable. when it shouldn’t, it happens all around us. it’s painful and real and so raw. in september, we found out we were expecting and just a few weeks later, at what would have been our 8 week appointment, we found out the pregnancy was not viable. i initially opted for a medical D&C. at the time, it seemed like the choice i wanted... until insurance called and let us know it was going to cost MINIMUM $3000 out of pocket. so after hearing the most gut wrenching news in the world, we would then be faced with medical bills. so i chose to go the “natural” way and let my body do its thing. three weeks and some change. that’s how long i’ve known and walked around smiling at the world acting like i’m okay, when i wasn’t. three weeks of still being pregnant, knowing i’d never meet our babe. three weeks of being exhausted over still existing pregnancy hormones, three weeks of continued morning sickness. finally a few days ago, my body caught on, a little. i continued to work, continued to try and “be normal” when the worst was happening. l would have been 12 weeks today. this morning, i went to the doctor and took medication to speed things up to reduced the risk of infection. i was fearful of the outcome because dr google scared the hell out of me. i didn’t even make it out of the doctors office before it all began. i’ve had contractions all day and many many trips to the bathroom, in absolute horror. and yes, miscarriage is common. but it’s still absolute hell that no woman should ever have to go through and doesn’t make it feel any better. it’s a special club that no one really wants to be in. i’ve chose to be very open about this because i want women to know they are not alone. and you are a freaking warrior, however long you carried. 🌿 . . #DilworthTribe #ihadamiscarriage #youngliving #naturalliving #oils #reallife #rawandreal #mamawarrior #warrior #1in4 #miscarriageawareness #miscarriagesupport #blightedovum #missedmiscarriage #iam1in4 #iam1in4ofpregnancyloss #pregnancylost #pregnancyloss

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The findings are based on a qualitative research study on 200 posts of text and pictures shared by Instagram users.

"What surprised me the most was how many women and their partners identified as parents after their miscarriage and how the miscarriage lasted into their family identity after a successful pregnancy," said Rebecca Mercier, assistant professor at Thomas Jefferson University.

"The extent to which this loss affects women and their families, and the longevity of their grief is a blind spot for clinicians," Mercier said.

These personal accounts also provided insight into patients' perspectives of typically defined experiences.

For example, in the clinic, the typical definition of recurrent pregnancy loss is after three pregnancies. However, the researchers found that many patients who had had two or more miscarriages identified with having recurrent pregnancy loss.

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This was the week that I had planned on sharing that we were expecting a baby next summer. We have announcement photos ready to go, that I was going to send on our Christmas cards this year. We were SO excited about this new addition to our family. Instead, I have to share the news that we unexpectedly lost our precious baby at 8 weeks, on Thanksgiving day. It has truly been the hardest thing I've ever experienced. I didn't know that a sadness this deep existed 💔 ▫️ I struggled with whether or not to share this with anyone at all, but ultimately decided to for several reasons. First, I want to honor the loss of my baby, a life I already loved so, so much. Second, as much as I want this to be a positive space, I also want to be real. I couldn't possibly try and post authentically in the upcoming weeks, without first sharing this huge, sad part of my life. And finally, I want to raise awareness and help end the stigma that surrounds miscarriage. Pregnancy loss affects 1 in 4 women. It is unfortuantley SO common, but it isn't so commonly talked about. One thing I've learned is how extremely isolating and lonely experiencing a miscarriage can be- my biggest hope is that by sharing my story it can make someone else feel not so alone. Please know that my inbox is always open if you need someone to talk to 💌 ▫️ There's a lot more that I feel the need to say and share, but it was hard enough to come up with these words, so the rest will have to come later. For now, I'm going to continue to grieve, process & try and be the best mom I can be at this time.

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"I'm hoping that this study will encourage clinicians to point patients to social media as a potential coping tool, as well as to approach this subject with bereaved and expecting parents with more respect and empathy," Mercier said.

Social media is becoming a common avenue for patient testimonials. For example, the short video-sharing platform TikTok has recently become a home for some users to make videos sharing their personal health struggles.

"As far as we know, this is the first study to look at the intersection of Instagram and miscarriage," Riley said.

"But this is a drop in the bucket. Social media platforms are evolving rapidly and a theoretically grounded research must follow," she added.