MEGHAN Markle has today revealed she had a miscarriage in July causing her and Prince Harry "unbearable grief".
The Duchess of Sussex, 39, wrote of the moment she knew she was "losing" her second baby in a deeply personal essay for the New York Times.
⚠️Read our Meghan and Harry blog for the latest news on the Royal couple
Recalling the devastating morning in July, the duchess said she had been looking after her son Archie, who would have been about 14-months-old at the time, when she felt a "sharp cramp".
In the moving piece, she wrote: "After changing his diaper, I felt a sharp cramp. 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.
"I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second. 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."
Meghan said she was speaking out about her loss because miscarriage was still a taboo subject which led to a "cycle of solitary mourning".
The former actress said she wanted to encourage people to ask "are you OK" this holiday season.
In the touching essay, she added: "Sitting in a hospital bed, watching my husband’s heart break as he tried to hold the shattered pieces of mine, I realized that the only way to begin to heal is to first ask, 'Are you OK?'"
The duchess referenced the interview she gave in South Africa when ITV journalist Tom Bradby asked her if she was OK.
At the time, she struggled to hold back tears, saying: "Thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I’m OK."
And in the New York Times essay, Meghan spoke of the importance of sharing pain, saying "together we can take the first steps towards healing."
Meghan wrote: "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."
She added: "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.
"We have learned that when people ask how any of us are doing, and when they really listen to the answer, with an open heart and mind, the load of grief often becomes lighter — for all of us.
"In being invited to share our pain, together we take the first steps toward healing."
She also reflected on the trials of 2020, noting the "loss and pain" people have felt from losing loved ones to coronavirus and the wave of Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
Meghan said: "In places where there was once community, there is now division."
"We aren’t just fighting over our opinions of facts; we are polarized over whether the fact is, in fact, a fact.
"We are at odds over whether science is real. We are at odds over whether an election has been won or lost. We are at odds over the value of compromise.”
What is a miscarriage and how common are they?
A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy before 24 weeks in the UK, and 20 weeks in the US.
After this point, a pregnancy loss is classed as a stillbirth.
Sadly, miscarriages are common with most happening in the first three months – the first trimester.
An estimated one in eight pregnancies will end in miscarriage, according to the NHS.
But, in many cases a miscarriage will happen before a woman knows she's pregnant.
It is important to know miscarriages rarely happen because of something you did, or didn't do. In most cases, doctors don't know what causes the loss, which makes it very hard to prevent them.
However, there are lifestyle changes that can help reduce the risk of a miscarriage, according to the charity Tommy's.
They include not smoking, eating a healthy, balanced diet, losing weight before pregnancy if you're overweight or obese, trying to avoid infections in pregnancy like rubella, not drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs, staying active and limiting caffeine intake.
The risk of miscarriage does also increase with age, according to Tommy's.
Women under 30 have a 10 per cent chance of miscarriage, which doubles to 20 per cent for women aged 35 to 39. For those over the age of 45, the risk is 50 per cent.
The most common sign of miscarriage is bleeding, but cramping, a discharge of fluid or tissue from your vagina and no longer 'feeling' pregnant are also symptoms.
Many women will notice light bleeding in the early stages of pregnancy, but if you are worried it is important to speak to your midwife or hospital straight away.
Losing a baby is a deeply personal experience that affects people differently.
No matter when in your pregnancy you suffer a miscarriage or stillbirth, support is available from hospital counselling services as well as Tommy's and other charity groups.
Meghan and Harry were married in May 2018 at St George's Chapel, going on to welcome son Archie into the world a year later.
The couple kept the birth of Archie very private and chose not to reveal the hospital where he would be born or pose for pictures with him immediately after his arrival. His christening was also a private affair.
When they introduced Archie to the world two days after his birth, the parents gushed over his arrival.
New mum Meghan said at the time: "It's magic, it's pretty amazing. I have the two best guys in the world so I'm really happy."
She added: "He has the sweetest temperament, he's really calm."
The couple have made no secret of their desire for a second child but they previously said two would be their limit for environmental reasons
Harry told activist and chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall in 2019 that he would only have two children for the sake of the planet.
The couple quit the Royal Family in January this year before moving to the US a few months later. They then bought their own home in Santa Barbara.
In July, the duchess had a Mail on Sunday court hearing and Finding Freedom was published.
The High Court hearing at the time saw Meghan apply to stop her five friends who spoke to People magazine from being named.
It is not the first time the members of the Royal Family have opened up about suffering from miscarriages.
In 2018, Zara Tindall, the Queen's granddaughter, revealed she suffered a second miscarriage shortly after losing her unborn child in 2016.
She and husband Mike Tindall had just announced the pregnancy a month before.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, she said: "I had to go through having the baby because it was so far along. I then had another miscarriage really early on."
In December 2001, Sophie the Countess of Wessex, the wife of Prince Edward, also had to be rushed to hospital after suffering from an ectopic pregnancy.
Charles Spencer, the brother of Princess Diana, today said his thoughts were with Meghan and Harry.
Speaking on Lorraine, the 56-year-old said: "I can't imagine the agony for any couple for losing a child in this way. I totally agree with you – all thoughts with them today."
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