Miscarrying In The Age Of Social Media Is A Double-Edged Sword

by Valerie Williams
Image via Shutterstock

When it comes to miscarriage, social media can both help and hurt

Social media has changed how we handle pretty much everything, and miscarriage is no exception. Pregnancy is now fraught with questions of when to tell our social media world we’re expecting, to how to tell them if we’ve experienced a loss.

One woman wrote a very honest account of those feelings and nails what it’s like to miscarry in the age of social media.

Rebecca Swift told the story of her miscarriage on Upworthy. She explains how after waiting the customary 12 weeks, she decided to share the happy news on Facebook. “”HEY, YOU GUYS. WE’RE HAVIN’ A BAYBAY!” was plastered all over my wall, along with some super adorable pregnancy announcement photos my friend snapped a few weeks before. The support and love flew in.”

And then, only days later, the bleeding began.

The blood was bright red and Swift and her partner knew something was wrong. They went to the doctor the next day for an ultrasound, hoping for reassuring news. Sadly, it was not to be.

“I heard a slow heartbeat and almost knocked the doctor over with excitement, and he said “No … that’s your heartbeat.” And then, nothing. We couldn’t find a beat. The tears immediately started streaming.”

Although the couple thought they were 12 weeks along, the scan showed their baby had stopped developing around seven weeks. The doctor explained their options — to have a D&C (dilation and curettage) or to let it happen naturally. Swift told the doctor she would think about it and contact him.

On her way out of the office, she remembered that her social media world knew about the pregnancy and her anxiety began to mount. “I quickly felt embarrassed. How would I dodge a million questions in parking lots and at parties and over social media over the next few months? We would think about that later, we decided.”

That night, after calling to schedule the D&C after all, Swift miscarried on her own. She describes the process, and it’s gut-wrenching. After seeing the embryo pass, she and her partner put it in a tiny box and buried it in their garden.

The next day, Swift was forced to confront reality and share with Facebook what happened. “I woke up tired, defeated, and sick to my stomach because, although the hard part was over, I still had to admit to the world what had happened.”

She posted about their loss, thanking family and friends for their kindness and prayers. And then, the thing she was most afraid of doing resulted in an incredible source of strength. Swift called the outpouring of support her “saving grace.” “Love surrounded us. The support and the uplifting messages poured in. We didn’t feel alone.”

And that would be the positive side of the double-edged sword of sharing a pregnancy on social media. If things go wrong, you’re hopefully showered with love. People step in to help and reassure, sharing their own stories of loss in the process.

Social media is making it more possible than ever for women to know they’re not alone when they miscarry. It used to be this silent and dreadful thing few spoke of, but it’s becoming more and more common for couples to share their pain with the world. Because social media makes it a lot easier to tell our stories.

But of course, there are negatives to our ability to put it all out there, good or bad. When I miscarried, I felt lonely in my sadness because we hadn’t told anyone but our parents we were pregnant in the first place. Scrolling social media was hard for a long time because I saw happy pregnancy and birth announcements from friends, and it hurt. Pictures of families with the three kids I was supposed to have were like jabs in the stomach. Since I had decided to keep the news of our early loss to myself, I also didn’t have the support that sustained Swift and her partner in those difficult, early days.

But as Swift notes in the closing of her essay, social media is more help than hurt because we can reach out to each other in times of sadness. “For those of you who have gone through or are going through a miscarriage, know that I’m grieving with you and surrounding you with my love. Know that it’s more than OK to talk about, and there are millions of women just like you. You are not alone.”

And that’s the best part of all in this world of being constantly connected — we can ask for help. Indeed, we are not alone anymore.