It happens all the time but we hardly ever talk about it. About one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, leaving many couples struggling with unresolved grief and social isolation. In this 10-part video-based online series, made by Digital Alchemist and funded by NZ On Air, we break down the myths and provide practical help. We hear from well-known NZ personalities - The Hits host and te reo advocate Stacey Morrison, TVNZ presenter and journalist Miriamo Kamo and funeral director Kaiora Tipene from The Casketeers - about their personal experiences and follow the stories of six couples who have been through the trauma of miscarriage. Today we start with a simple explanation of what miscarriage is - and what it isn't.
Misconceptions is a ten-part web series about miscarriage that aims to bust myths, provide information, and let grieving parents know that they are not alone. In fact, around one in four pregnancies are lost to miscarriage - making it one of the most common human experiences that isn't talked about.
In New Zealand, a miscarriage is defined as the loss of a pregnancy in the first 20 weeks. It is thought that the majority of miscarriages occur due to chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo or foetus. This means that despite the terminology used ('mis-carried', 'lost' a pregnancy), miscarriage is not anyone's fault.
Misconceptions will cover types of first trimester miscarriage, miscarriage management, coping with grief, and how to support someone who is going through miscarriage. It will also delve into some of the myths and taboos surrounding the first trimester of pregnancy.
The episodes feature interviews with well-known New Zealanders and with everyday people, who share their personal experiences of pregnancy loss. Misconceptions also includes interviews with a range of experts who help explain the physical and emotional effects of miscarriage.
The fact that miscarriage is completely normal does not make going through it any easier. And because it's not usually talked about openly, it can come as a real shock. It can also be a very lonely experience. That was the case for bereaved parent Sanele Chadwick.
"I didn't know it could happen," he says. "I didn't know miscarriage was a thing. I didn't know it was as common as it is."
The grief that sometimes accompanies miscarriage can also come as a surprise to parents, says infertility and pregnancy loss counsellor Megan Downer.
"A lot of women are confused about this intense feeling of loss for someone that they never met," Downer says. "The important thing is being able to talk about and make sense of their thoughts and feelings."
For many people, knowing that they are pregnant opens a world of dreams and possibilities, which are lost when the pregnancy ends. People may mourn their hopes for the future along with the loss of the pregnancy. Broadcaster Stacey Morrison and journalist Miriama Kamo know the feeling.
"The second you discover you're pregnant, the moment you see that positive sign, you change your world to accommodate that baby," says Miriama.
Stacey adds: "No matter how long this baby's with you, they are a part of your whānau."
- If you think you may be having a miscarriage, contact your lead maternity carer - this may be a midwife or your GP. Alternatively, call Healthlinefree on 0800 611 116, or visit your local Urgent Medical Centre or hospital
- Visit the Miscarriage Support websiteor join the Facebook group.
- Visit the Sands website. Sands supports parents and families who have experienced the death of a baby.
- Free call or text 1737to talk to a trained counsellor.