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Viral videos highlight pregnancy, miscarriage emotions

Two videos posted by a Texas couple on YouTube show the emotional roller-coaster they went through in learning they were expecting a baby and then suffering a miscarriage days later.

Though 20 to 25 percent of pregnancies in the U.S. end in miscarriage -- about one million cases every year -- few people talk about it openly, and most people mistakenly still believe that miscarriage is rare.

This weekend, the Texas couple, who have a YouTube show called "Sam and Nia" about their home life, posted a video sharing that wife and mother, Nia, had miscarried the couple's third child. It happened just a few days after they posted a video in which Nia was surprised and thrilled to learn of the pregnancy.

The couple said they chose the unusual route to go public with the news because they wanted to raise awareness of the fact that many women have miscarriages and the grief it triggers is real.

"Those of you who have experienced miscarriage before, I can relate now," Nia said. "I have felt my womb empty out, I never, ever knew that women felt that way. That's the hardest part, just knowing that it's really gone. There's no question."

The couple gained widespread attention for their previous video, posted August 5, in which husband Sam snuck his wife's urine sample from the toilet and and did a pregnancy test to surprise her with the news, before she even knew herself. That video went viral, getting millions of views.

"We never imagined this would happen," Sam said in the video following the miscarriage. "This baby came along and made us happier than we remember, just by seeing that pregnancy test."

Recent research suggests that when people share their private stories about miscarriage, it can make a difference in helping others who are experiencing profound sadness, and sometimes unwarranted guilt, over such a loss.

"We actually asked in our study what effect it had when other people you knew, friends and family or celebrities and public figures, disclosed a miscarriage," Dr. Zev Williams, director of the Program for Early and Recurrent Pregnancy Loss at Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University, told CBS News.

"Just the fact of hearing of other people having a miscarriage, even if it was just a public figure, someone you didn't know, actually went a long way to helping," he said.

A study Williams and his colleagues published in May surveyed more than 1,000 men and women nationwide. More than 55 percent vastly underestimated how common miscarriage actually is, believing it was very rare and happened in less than five percent of pregnancies.

Miscarriages are most common in the early weeks of pregnancy, which is why many parents-to-be wait to announce their news after the first trimester.

Complicating the sense of loss over suddenly losing a pregnancy, many people also feel guilt and blame themselves. Williams' study found the majority of people surveyed thought miscarriages were likely caused by the mother's lifestyle choices: lifting heavy objects, long-term stress, having an IUD or taking birth control pills. Though some exposure to toxic substances, stress and other environmental factors can increase risk for miscarriage, studies show that is very rare.

In fact, Williams said 60 to 70 percent of miscarriages are caused by chromosomal irregularities in the fetus; it is the body's way of recognizing when a pregnancy is "destined to fail."

"The woman's body is really doing the healthy thing," Williams said. "Saying, 'Okay, this isn't meant to become a viable healthy pregnancy, so we'll stop it early and give a chance for a healthy pregnancy to follow.'"

These types of miscarriages are becoming more common because chromosomal fetal abnormalities happen more as the mother's age increases, and more women are delaying pregnancy. Only 1 to 2 percent of women have recurrent miscarriages due to physical or genetic problems.

"The big thing is just to let people know that it wasn't their fault that this happened. It wasn't a deadline at work or lifting something heavy or getting into an argument that caused the miscarriage," said Williams.

But guilt after a miscarriage is a common problem, because of these skewed perceptions leaving many women feeling they have done something wrong.

More than a third of the people in Williams' study thought they could have prevented the miscarriage and almost half said they felt guilty. Forty-one percent also answered that they felt alone and had done something wrong. But social support was one of the most important factors in leading them out of the feelings of despair.

When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted recently that he and his wife Priscilla Chan were going to have a child, he also said the couple had been through three miscarriages.

"When we started talking to our friends, we realized how frequently this happened," Zuckerberg said. "Many people we knew had similar issues and that nearly all had healthy children after all. We hope that sharing our experience will give more people the same hope we felt and will help more people feel comfortable sharing their stories as well."

Sam and Nia -- whose family first became "YouTube famous" a year ago when their self-filmed video singing the theme song to the movie "Frozen" collected more than 20 million views -- said that sharing their loss with thousands of commenters as well as each other has been comforting.

In the video, Sam said, "Mourning together like this has made us stronger. And it's made me appreciate my children more, look at both of them in a different light."