My Blighted Ovum & Me

My Blighted Ovum & Me 

‘I’m sorry I can see a pregnancy sac but no heartbeat, or baby’. Hearing this at 8 weeks pregnant, the consultant telling me softly that my baby wasn’t a baby, was heart breaking. I was carrying just a sac. I found this out on Easter week and one of the first, bitter thoughts I had was that it wasn’t the kind of Easter Egg I had imagined having…

In the days before the scan I had been experiencing really light bleeding in my discharge (which in itself is not uncommon in the first trimester) but I knew the strange, cramping abdominal pains were not normal and shouldn’t be happening. 

I have only had one pregnancy before this one and that ended up at term with my now 2 year old son. That pregnancy had absolutely zero complications and so I had assumed this one would follow in the same way. I never thought that I would be unlucky enough to have a miscarriage but that’s the sadness and unexpectedness of it all - anyone can suffer one.

A trip to the Early Pregnancy Unit at my local hospital showed as clear as day that the sac and what would be the placenta had developed but not the baby. There was no heartbeat, no growing foetus, just an empty circle on the screen.

What’s a Blighted Ovum?

A ‘Blighted Ovum’ also known as an Anembryonic (literally ‘no embryo’ in Latin) Pregnancy or Gestation happens when the sperm and the egg fertilise to form the sac and the placenta but there are either too many or too few chromosomes for the foetus to start growing. As the sac grows, hormones are release from it and tells the body to start preparing for a pregnancy hence the positive pregnancy tests and usual early pregnancy symptoms. But there wasn’t a baby in there

For many women their body doesn’t recognise that there isn’t a baby then medication or surgery is needed to remove what is grimly called the ‘pregnancy matter’. Luckily for me my body had clocked that something was not quite right and in it’s own time, started to miscarry my pregnancy sac without any medical intervention. 

What does an early miscarriage feel like?

Think of your heaviest period, the aches and bleeding, then you’ve got an idea about what a miscarriage feels like.

Added to that the grief and loss of what could be, feels as raw as if there was a baby.

The moment it dawned on me that this was really happening and was over was the feeling when I passed my ‘pregnancy matter’. There’s no other experience quite like coming out of the loo and thinking ‘well it’s finally out of me now’.

It’s estimated that between 10-25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage (before 24 weeks gestation) so it’s happening to lots of you out there but miscarriage remains a female taboo. Perhaps we are fearful of acknowledging the loss by talking about it - don’t worry, the person experiencing it has fully accepted what is happening, so maybe ask how they are doing. Perhaps we are scared by our own fears of it happening to us so we choose to avoid facing it. 

Whatever the motivation, we don’t do ourselves any favours by sweeping it under the carpet. If you are experiencing or have experienced miscarriage and would like support then speak out or reach out to an organisation like The Miscarriage Association (www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk). 


You’ve got this, 


Rachel x

Rachel Clarke