Facts About Pregnancy
December 8, 2013
The recent Facebook and blog fad of posting facts about your pregnancy experience really rankled me. In part because I felt like I was being excluded from playing a game. Even though I really didn’t care that much about playing it. Tell me I can’t do something and I will respond in predictable fashion by wanting nothing more than to prove you wrong.
Tell me I can’t have a biological child and I seek fertility treatments. Which is how I landed in this mess to begin with. And so I posted my own 12 Facts About My [Ectopic] Pregnancy.
But the other reason that this fad got under my skin is the lack of general knowledge about the dangers of pregnancy. Please don’t misunderstand, my goal here is not to scare the proverbial crap out of fertile women everywhere. Being blissfully unaware of how pregnancy can go horribly wrong is a state of innocence that I envy.
There are consequences to this innocence. General ignorance about pregnancy and reproduction cause fucktard comments like this one: Legitimate rape doesn’t cause pregnancy. The idea that life begins at conception, aka the Personhood movement, could not take hold as well if more people knew that 25+% of pregnancies end in miscarriage and if more people knew IVF success rates. Not every embryo has what it takes to become a baby on the outside. Not every womb is capable of properly growing a baby. And these things are widely misunderstood as pointed out in this HuffPo article.
Basically this silly fad bugs me not just because it makes me feel left out but because it perpetuates the myth that the worst things that can happen during pregnancy are swollen feet and horrendous heartburn. And maybe you’ll hear about bed rest. But only if it ended well.
So, without further ado, here are some pregnancy facts.
- A fertile couple has a 25% chance of becoming pregnant each month if not using protection. It’s actually pretty surprising that some people manage to do it so easily.
- Miscarriage Rates: Although exact numbers are impossible to compute since many pregnancies miscarry before the mother even knows she’s pregnant it is estimated that 15-25% of (and possibly more) pregnancies end in miscarriage (I’ve seen multiple numbers cited). This article indicates that as many as HALF of all fertilized eggs die (before implantation) or miscarry (aka spontaneously abort).
- Ectopic Pregnancy: Ectopic pregnancies occur at a rate of 1-2% in the general population. They occur more often (2-4%) in women who have used Assisted Reproduction Treatments (ART). Once a woman has had one ectopic pregnancy her risk for another goes up. Ref
- Preterm Birth: About 11-12% of deliveries in the United States are classified as premature, which is a birth that occurs between the 20th and 36th weeks of pregnancy. This is a dangerous condition for the baby, which might not be able to survive outside of the womb (Ref). Endometriosis (affecting approximately 10% of women) is one cause of preterm birth.
- Other issues that can affect pregnancy and the health of baby, mother or both are: Gestational Diabetes, Pre-Eclampsia, Subchorionic Hematoma, Placenta Previa, Cervical Incompetence…I’m sure there are more but I think I’ve made my point.
I invite you all to list any complications I missed in the comments. I assure you I did not intentionally leave anything out. I just ran out of steam because there are SO MANY of them.
Perhaps if more people understood how dangerous a pregnancy can be fewer people would try to mandate that a woman not be able to choose whether to carry that pregnancy. The only people that should be involved are the woman and her doctor. And the father. Nature and biology can think up some pretty weird shit and no law can account for it all.
In short, I think it does the world a disservice on various levels to hide the ugliness of life. Life is not pretty. Or easy. Sometimes it can be and I’m all about rejoicing when it is. But not at the expense of hiding the ugly. Hiding the ugly just makes people feel more alone at a time when they desperately need to know that they are not alone.