Meghan: Duchess of Sussex tells of miscarriage ‘pain and grief’

The Duchess of Sussex has revealed she had a miscarriage in July, writing in an article of feeling “an almost unbearable grief”.

“I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second,” Meghan said in a piece for the New York Times.

She went on to describe how she watched “my husband’s heart break as he tried to hold the shattered pieces of mine”.

Meghan wrote that “loss and pain have plagued every one of us in 2020”.

The 39-year-old shared her experience to urge people to “commit to asking others, ‘are you OK?'” over the Thanksgiving holiday in the US.

The duchess and Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, moved to California to live away from the media spotlight, after stepping back as senior royals in January.

The couple had their first child, Archie, on 6 May 2019.

The duchess began her article by describing a “sharp cramp” she felt while looking after her son Archie.

“I dropped to the floor with him in my arms, humming a lullaby to keep us both calm, the cheerful tune a stark contrast to my sense that something was not right,” she wrote.

“Hours later, I lay in a hospital bed, holding my husband’s hand. I felt the clamminess of his palm and kissed his knuckles, wet from both our tears.

“Staring at the cold white walls, my eyes glazed over. I tried to imagine how we’d heal.”

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and their baby son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor at a meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa on 25 September 2019
image caption The duke and duchess visited southern Africa in 2019 with their son Archie

The duchess continued: “Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few.

“In the pain of our loss, my husband and I discovered that in a room of 100 women, 10 to 20 of them will have suffered from miscarriage.

“Yet despite the staggering commonality of this pain, the conversation remains taboo, riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning.

“Some have bravely shared their stories; they have opened the door, knowing that when one person speaks truth, it gives license for all of us to do the same.”

The duchess also referenced a TV interview in which she was asked by a journalist if she was ok during her tour of South Africa last year.

She said she was asked during a time in which she was “trying to keep a brave face in the very public eye”.

“I answered him honestly, not knowing that what I said would resonate with so many – new moms and older ones, and anyone who had, in their own way, been silently suffering,” she said.

The duchess is the second member of the Royal Family to open up about having a miscarriage.

In 2018 the Queen’s granddaughter Zara Tindall spoke about suffering two miscarriages before having her second child.

‘Breaking stigma’

An estimated one in four pregnancies ends in a miscarriage, according to the charity Tommy’s.

Tommy’s midwife Sophie King said talking about baby loss in pregnancy is “a real taboo in society” so “mothers like Meghan sharing their stories is a vital step in breaking down that stigma and shame”.

“Meghan’s essay praises the bravery of parents who share their stories, and those who prefer to grieve privately can still find comfort and connection in reading about others’ experiences,” she said.

“Her honesty and openness today send a powerful message to anyone who loses a baby: this may feel incredibly lonely, but you are not alone.”

Presentational grey line

Miscarriage: The loss of about one in four pregnancies

  • Miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy up to but not including 24 weeks of pregnancy. If the baby is lost after this point it is classed as a stillbirth
  • Unlike stillbirths, miscarriages do not have to be registered or recorded anywhere so there are no official statistics, but it is estimated that about one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage
  • The majority of miscarriages happen within the first 12 weeks and by far the majority of those happen within the first eight weeks. When a woman gets to the second trimester – the middle three months of pregnancy – there is a much smaller likelihood of miscarriage
  • About half of miscarriages are thought to happen because something has gone wrong with the early development of the egg cell or sperm cell
  • Miscarriages can also happen because of a blood clotting problem which can starve the baby of oxygen, hormonal problems, a problem with the shape or strength of the uterus or cervix, large fibroids (non-cancerous growths) in the uterus, or infection
  • The main two risk factors for miscarriage are a woman’s age and the number of miscarriages she has had before. As women age, their eggs too get older and there are more likely to be abnormalities

Source: Miscarriage Association

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