How one woman is changing the conversation around miscarriages

15.5 thousand is the number of people following Dr. Jessica Zucker’s powerful Instagram account, "I had a miscarriage." Dr. Zucker, the L.A.-based clinical psychologist behind the social media movement, started the account in 2015.

Of the account, Dr. Zucker told People: “It’s really been a community builder. It’s been really overwhelming in a positive way. It shows how hungry women are for connection when it comes to pregnancy loss.”

@thewildandher shares: Dear baby Brooke, Yesterday with my feet in the sand and my hand on my belly, I could feel him looking at me. I glanced over at your father and watched him remember. Watched him do the math. Watched 'she would have reached full term by now' cross his face. Watched him work out why I'd been so clingy all week, so after affection from him. Watched him count the times I have crawled up into a ball on his lap and stared out over the ocean. All week my body has been preparing itself for labour. Phantom contractions and a feeling of wanting to retreat. My mind tells me it's not real, that you died some time ago, but my body tells me I'm ready to birth you. That I've reached nine months and now you're ready to fall earth side. Except you aren't. Except you have already touched earth, prematurely, without a heartbeat. So today, as I spend some hours by myself in reflection, I just wanted to thank you. Thank you for making me a mother for the second time. Thank you for opening me even wider than I thought possible and leaving the door ajar for your sibling to follow right behind you. The sibling that has spent the last seven months sleeping where you slept. I thought this would be the week that I finally let go. Let go of you. Only to realise that a mother never lets go. Other people do, they say things like "well at least you can still get pregnant again", but a mother never stops grieving the life of the children she has lost. The soul that lived briefly wrapped underneath the mother's heart. Thank you for softening me. For teaching me the power of Grace. A lesson I will never stop learning. To our baby who we always believed had a spirit of water, the one who nearly became River, but eventually became Brooke. The one who was, in the end, birthed into the water pooling on the floor of the shower (from water you began, into water you fell), I love you in a way no prayer can describe. Maybe one day, on the other side, I'll meet you. 🌈 _ #thewildandher #IHadAMiscarriage #miscarriage #rainbowbaby #pregnancyafterloss #grief #loss #1in4

A post shared by Jessica Zucker, Ph.D. (@ihadamiscarriage) on

BODY BLOGGER TAKES UNFLATTERING PICTURES TO PROVE POINT ABOUT INSTAGRAM

The account came three years after Zucker experienced her own pregnancy loss, a miscarriage in her second trimester. Her loss led to a line of sympathy cards in 2014 touting the hashtag #ihadamiscarriage, which become her Instagram name a year later.

Miscarriages are one of the most common losses of pregnancy in the United States – as many as 25% of American women will have a miscarriage in their lifetime according to the American Pregnancy Association – and yet, women still feel stigmatized and shamed by it.

Those feelings of guilt and stigma are what Dr. Zucker aims to do away with. On her account, Zucker encourages followers to share their stories and photos about their miscarriages, stillbirths and other pregnancy losses. Zucker also shares photos she finds helpful or moving.

One of the most recent photos she has uploaded shows a watercolor of a female torso that says “Farewell to stigma” printed on her stomach– illustrating what Zucker hopes to accomplish with her social media account.

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To People, Dr. Zucker emphasized: “It would be great, in my lifetime, if culture changes around this topic. I don’t know what begets what. Is it the silence that begets the shame and stigma, or is it the stigma that begets the silence and the shame? These three things all impact each other. So my hope is this is a conversation that people can feel comfortable having without berating themselves or feeling a sense of shame.”

Dr. Zucker’s account is public to give people a safe place to share their stories and feelings.