Every one of us has come across as being stressed at some point in life. It can be due to many reasons like personal commitments, work pressure, relationship problems, and changes in life. But what happens when you are stressed during pregnancy? Can stress cause miscarriage? The role of stress in pregnancy is a bit complex. It is said to be either a risk factor for miscarriage or stillbirth. The doubt is whether is a true fact or an outright myth of stress having any relation to the loss of a baby.
We will be discussing how miscarriages happen, can stress cause miscarriage? And how stress is related to the period during pregnancy. Moreover, the importance of taking care of yourself during pregnancy will be discussed.
During pregnancy, it is natural to get a bit stressed and be concerned about the baby. But some women are also concerned about whether their stress affects the baby. There is some evidence that suggests stress, anxiety, and depression in pregnancy may sometimes cause a problem for the baby, especially emotional problems. But this is a rare thing, especially if you get the right support and treatment during pregnancy.
In a pregnant woman, mental health problems are considered to be common, because up to one in five women develop mental health problems during pregnancy or experience them in the first year after childbirth. This includes low mood, tension, overthinking, and anxiety. It is found that about 10% to 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. Is it stress that causes miscarriage?
What is miscarriage?
Miscarriage is the death of a fetus in the womb before the 20th week of pregnancy. There are roughly one million known pregnancies that end up in miscarriage. But the actual number is likely higher because many miscarriages occur before the pregnancy is recognized. The early miscarriage is because of a chromosomal abnormality that interferes with the normal development of the embryo.
As miscarriage occurs, women experience a lot of stigmas, shame, and silence due to the loss of the baby. They feel the blame for the loss in some way. This is why they wonder if it was a stress level that lead to the miscarriage.
The true fact is, that there is a lack of information about miscarriages in general. Even if there is information, it is sometimes confusing or contradictory. This is true, especially if it comes to stress playing a role during pregnancy.
Can stress cause miscarriage?
Some evidence does support the idea that stress could affect pregnancy. But on the other hand, the evidence is mixed and unclear while many doctors and health authorities claim that stress is not a contributing factor and an increased risk of miscarriage. Most major medical organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UK’s National health services (NHS), and the National Institute of child health and development do not consider stress as a direct cause of miscarriage.
This is because several large kinds of research have found no direct link on can stress causes miscarriage.
Most of the women who undergo mental health problems during pregnancy will mostly give birth to healthy babies.
In a study conducted in 2013, they found no evidence that stress impacts the blood flow of the umbilical cord or the uterine, and suggested that the stress doesn’t affect a fetus directly. But the main point to consider you cannot completely say that stress does not relate to miscarriage because some researchers suggest that there is at least an indirect link between stress and miscarriage and so it could make a risk factor.
A 2017 review of research since 1978, suggested that psychological stress could elevate the risk of miscarriage by as much as 42 percent. But they are not exactly sure about how a woman’s stress could affect the loss of a baby. They theorized that it could have something to do with the stress affecting hormones that are important to pregnancy. Prolactin and progesterone are two hormones that are essential for pregnancy, and so it is suggested that these two hormones could be suppressed by stress.
On the other hand, some studies suggest that stress could be a risk factor as it affects the pregnant person’s mental health and behavior. Stress mind Triggers depression and biscuit cause the parent to be more likely to use harmful substances like drugs, alcohol, or smoking tobacco. As a result, this could increase the risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes and endangers physical health during pregnancy.
When you get stressed, it increases your blood pressure. There are studies that have found high blood pressure as a risk factor for early pregnancy loss. Stress could also cause you to forget to eat. When you do not eat it it will impact the growth of your Fetus’s ability to get the nutrients it needs. So that it will end up with preterm birth or low birth weight. On the other hand, stress will lead you to eat too much causing you to gain weight too quickly and will raise the risk of gestational diabetes.
Although stress doesn’t cause direct effects during pregnancy, it can still have an indirect link to miscarriages. You need to make sure that your mental well-being is justice important as your physical health so you need to take care of your mind as well as your body during pregnancy.
Common causes of miscarriage
Stress can indirectly cause miscarriages. But other than that there are a few common causes that cause miscarriages.
Genetic issues or chromosome issues are the reason for half of the miscarriages that occur. This randomly occurs during the division of fetal cells, or they may occur as a result of damaged egg cells, or sperm.
Due to chromosomal abnormalities, there are some causes of miscarriage. The embryo gets the wrong number of chromosomes or it would have been affected by translocation, which is when one part of chromosomes moves on to another. It could cause an embryo to implant and never develop and this is called the blighted ovum.
There is something called intrauterine fetal demise where there is the formation of the embryo but the development gets stopped in the womb. Sometimes it will lead to a molar pregnancy, where an embryo forms into a tumor. Here the father provides both sets of chromosomes but there will be no development of a fetus, instead, it will have abnormal growth.
The partial molar pregnancy is where the chromosomes from the mother will remain, and the father will provide two sets of chromosomes, but it will be associated with placental abnormality and the growth of an abnormal fetus. This is never the fault of anyone and there is nothing that any doctor can do to prevent them from happening.
The weakened cervix is one of the causes of miscarriage during the second trimester of pregnancy, and it is also known as the incompetent cervix or cervical incompetence. During this time, the cervical muscles get weak and are not able to hold the fetus. It may occur as a result of the previous injury to the cervix and due to this weakness, the cervix may open too early often during the second trimester, and result in miscarriage.
Long-term health conditions
One of the causes of miscarriage is due to long-term conditions. They include thyroid disease, hypertension, heart disease, uncontrollable diabetes, kidney disease, and more.
Other factors linked to miscarriage
- Women 35 years of age or older may have an increased risk of miscarriage when compared to younger women. The risk of having a miscarriage is about 20 percent if you are 35 years old. But the risk increases to 40% at the age of 40, and at age of 45, the risk is 80%.
- Being overweight may also increase the risk of having a miscarriage.
- If you smoke, drink alcohol, or take drugs during pregnancy, you have a higher risk of miscarriage.
- Certain medications such as retinoids, misoprostol, methotrexate, or Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be risky.
How to prevent miscarriage?
Most of the parents think that miscarriage was caused by something they did. But the truth is, it is not. Most miscarriages are not preventable, and it won’t even give any warning signs to show that it’s happening. You will get to know once it happens. Even if you know it, it cannot be stopped.
Mild stress or the work stress you get is unlikely to cause miscarriage. But extreme stress such as severe trauma, or the loss of loved ones, has the possibility of coming at a higher risk. But still, there is no direct link. Moreover, this stress is not your fault.
Miscarriage can happen for a number of reasons and there is nothing to be ashamed of it. The best thing you can do is to focus on taking care of yourself physically and mentally.
It is better to make stress management a priority in your life. The stress may be unavoidable for most people, especially if you are dealing with something like recurrent miscarriages or infertility. It’s a good idea to do whatever you can to keep you relaxed. This will improve your overall health.
- Try to get regular exercises
- Get some extra rest
- Eat nutritious food
- Spend some time with your friends
- Practice open communication with your partner
- Go for regular checkups
- Quit alcohol, smoking, and drugs
- Decrease the intake of caffeine
- Talk about any prescribed medications you take with your doctor
- Avoid foods that pose a risk to your pregnancy
- Practice yoga or other relaxation techniques
- Seek professional support
How to lower the stress during pregnancy?
The answer to can stress cause miscarriage is, yes. As it can indirectly link to the loss of a baby. So it is important to keep your mental health stable. It is a normal thing to feel stressed, especially when you are pregnant. Because a lot is changing all at once, you will surely have a feeling of anxiety. Although it is normal, it is not necessarily good for you which is why there is no downside to prioritizing self-care and relaxation during pregnancy.
You need to care for yourself by finding what is relaxing for you. It can just be a walk around the park, getting some time with friends, meditating, making time for an activity you enjoy, and so on.
If you have ever experienced miscarriage or pregnancy loss earlier, you might find it more difficult to just stay without worrying about miscarriage. In such times you have to remember stressing yourself doesn’t help. If you find it difficult to stop worrying, you can talk to a therapist or join a miscarriage support group. This might be helpful for you to get calm if you are experiencing high stress.
Although the connection between stress and miscarriage is not clear, it is agreed by some experts that high stress from trauma is more likely to impact health and pregnancy. But with treatment, you will be more able to come over with stress and get the help you need to take care of yourself.
Getting pregnant again
Some women experience mental health problems during pregnancy even if they had no issues. If you have gone through a traumatic experience, you will be particularly at risk of problems of stress. You need to talk to your GP if you feel depressed so they will be able to tell and how to get support. During pregnancy, you will be referred to a maternal mental health specialist.
It is common for people to think that they are the reason for their miscarriage because they were too stressed. Although stress and miscarriage have no direct link, they are somewhat linked indirectly. You are not to blame for being stressed. You will start taking the blame for even the unexplained miscarriages. Most of the time, the cause of miscarriages is not known.
If you worry about stress being one of the reasons for the causes of miscarriage, you will end up being more worried. Know that every pregnant person worries at least a little bit during pregnancy. But maturity gives birth to healthy babies. Just make sure that you do the right things to keep you mentally and physically strong.
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