A Positive Pregnancy Test is Not a Baby

A Positive Pregnancy Test is Not a Baby

By Lauren Streicher, MD

The beauty of Facebook is that you never feel alone when you have hundreds, thousands, or even millions of 'friends" who are there for you 24/7. So it is understandable that Mark Zuckerberg, the father of Facebook, (and a wanna be actual father)  has gone public with the news that he and his wife had  three  miscarriages prior to her current healthy pregnancy. And as anyone who has experienced  the excitement of a positive pregnancy test followed by a miscarriage is painfully aware, a positive pregnancy test doesn’t always translate to a baby nine months later.

When the Rabbit Dies

Today even women who flunked high school chemistry can find out they are pregnant by testing their urine in the privacy of their own bathroom within minutes of a missed period. Contrast that to the 1950’s, when women waited until the physical signs of pregnancy confirmed their suspicions. The  “rabbit test” was available, but not frequently done, since the test was performed by injecting a rabbit (or frog, or mouse) with urine from a pregnant woman. The rabbit was then” sacrificed”  (the politically correct scientific way of saying “murdered”) in order to check for changes that occur in rabbit ovaries after being injected with  a pregnant woman's urine.  

By the 1960’s, rabbits no longer had to lose their life in the name of confirming pregnancy, and  today women not only learn they are expecting without having to go to the doctor, but  are able know  months before they can no longer zip their jeans. And, it is natural to want to alert your dearest "friends" via Facebook, that a baby is on the way the minute the faintest of faintest blue lines is discernable.   But stop the presses… Since significant numbers of pregnancies miscarry , even in young healthy women, it’s a good idea to wait prior to informing the immediate world.

Yes, Even Young Women Miscarry

Most women are aware that miscarriage rates are high in older moms, but are  shocked to learn that the pregnancy loss rate is as high as 1 in 5 pregnancies in young women. It is actually much higher, but most miscarriages  are undetected because they occur before  a missed period. In fact, even in a young woman, less than 50% of eggs that are fertilized make the journey down the tube, implant, and successfully grow into a baby.

Miscarriage rates, primarily because of a genetic abnormalities, increase with maternal age.  Under age 30, pregnancy loss ranges from  10 to 20%, by age 45, 80% of pregnancies miscarry.

  When a pregnancy loss does occur, the question is always, “why did this happen and could anything have been done to prevent it?”  Unfortunately, the majority of miscarriages cannot be prevented, even if the cause has been determined.

While  the most common cause of miscarriage is a pregnancy that is genetically abnormal even normal pregnancies are sometimes lost.  If a uterus has an abnormal shape , fibroids, or a lining that is not “welcoming” to a growing fetus implantation is sometimes sabotaged.

 Does Bed Rest Prevent Miscarriage?

Despite your grandma's  advice that staying in bed will prevent a miscarriage, there is no evidence that doing so will make a difference. Avoiding playing tennis or having sex  (Sorry Grandma) also doesn’t matter. Since most pregnancies that miscarry are because of genetic or other abnormalities, a change in activity simply will not influence the outcome. You can't shake a good pregnancy loose.

So back to the original question…when do you alert the media? Most  women, even if they are only five minutes pregnant, assume that it is obvious to even the most casual acquaintance and see no need to  keep this change in status private  for minutes, much less days, weeks, or. gasp… months?

 But, if you are planning on having pre-natal genetic tests it makes sense to wait for those results. It is always a difficult painful decision to terminate a desperately desired pregnancy.  It is even more difficult when you have told the immediate world that you are expecting.

 Even if you are not having genetic testing, the only people that you should tell you are pregnant in the first couple of months are  those people  you would confide in if you were to lose the pregnancy. If that includes all your Facebook friends, so be it. But don't say I didn't warn you. Once the pregnancy is a "go", post away, and as the Zuckerbergs have done, it's nice to let  women that have experienced a miscarriage know  they they are not alone, even if it is not posted on Facebook.