Can Psychological Stress Cause a Miscarriage?

Written by: Ankita Kathad – MA
(Clinical Psychology)

Last updated date : May 26, 2022

Pregnancy is a stressful event. It brings many physical and emotional changes. Research says that stress affects the growth of a fetus. Pregnancy leads to a mixture of emotions. There are many chemical changes in the body. The uterus stretches itself to fit the baby. There is pressure all around a to-be-mother. All this can lead to stress. Miscarriage can be a painful experience for the mother and the family. In this article, we try to find links between Psychological stress and this event. Can psychological stress cause a miscarriage? We aim to understand the emotional causes of miscarriage in this article.

Chapter 1:
What Are the Causes of Stressful Emotions Involved in Pregnancy?

Pregnancy is a period of transition for the mother. It affects her entire body. Her body is changing every day. She not only experiences happy hormones but she is filled with emotions that can trigger stress. To understand if psychological stress can cause a miscarriage, we need to understand the causes of stress during pregnancy. Here are some of the reasons for stress during pregnancy.
  • Financial fear: The mother is worried about the finances of raising her children. The baby has needs. Mother would want to give the best possible life to her children. She worries about raising her children in the best possible environment.
  • Fear of labour: The mother can be concerned about the thoughts of labour. Labour is painful and scary. Mothers can feel anxious about it
  • Fear of taking care of the baby: A mother may feel unprepared to take care of the baby. Moreover, she may not think that it is the right time to have one. Additionally, a mother can have self-doubts about her capability as a parent.
  • Physical changes: The constant headaches, nausea and mood swings can tire out a woman. It can also lead to fear of the unknown. Moreover, women have other pains such as heat burns, and backaches. All this can affect her work and routine. This can lead to stress.
  • Workplace burden: People in the workplace may not always understand their condition. They may not approve the maternity leave. This brings stress to a pregnant woman.
  • Fear of losing the baby: A pregnant woman is constantly worried about hurting her fetus. She takes every possible measure to avoid any harm. However, the thought of losing the baby can bring stress.

Chapter 2:
Can Psychological Stress Cause a Miscarriage?

Miscarriage refers to the loss of a fetus before the 20th week. This is a sad event for mothers and their families. It causes pain and often stigma for the mother. She often ends up blaming herself for the loss of the fetus.

An expecting mother’s psychological health has a direct as well as indirect effect on her fetus. Additionally, it has been found that stress also harms the growth of the fetus. When under stress, a hormone called cortisol is released by the body. This hormone can affect the placenta which protects the fetus.

Indirectly stress may affect the pregnancy in many ways. It can cause high blood pressure. This can lead to a heart attack in pregnant ladies. Stress can also trigger depression. A pregnant woman going through depression can engage in alcohol and drugs. This can harm the fetus. Moreover, it can cause complications in pregnancy.

When a woman is under stress, she can forget to eat. This can reduce the nutritional value that the fetus receives. This is a big factor in miscarriage. Some pregnant women may overeat during pregnancy which can cause weight gain and increased cholesterol.

Stress can lead to a lack of sleep. A pregnant woman requires good sleep and rest for the healthy growth of the fetus.


Chapter 3:
Emotional Causes of Miscarriage

Mental causes may not directly cause miscarriage. They indirectly contribute to the loss of the fetus. Mental factors lead to emotional issues. This affects the physical health of the pregnant woman. Emotional causes are responsible for the loss of the fetus. The mind is closely linked to our body. Our mental well being and physical well being are closely tied together. An expecting mother’s mental health is therefore crucial.

Emotional health affects the lifestyle of a pregnant lady. For instance, If she is sad, she is less likely to take care of herself. She will neglect her care. This impacts the growth of the fetus.

If she is anxious, she will have physical symptoms such as a fast heartbeat, headaches, and high blood pressure, which can impact the blood flow to her fetus. Similarly, if she is having any mental disorder on the mood spectrum, she can pass it on to her child through genetics.


Chapter 4:
Managing Stress during Pregnancy

It is less likely that stress such as financial burden can directly lead to loss of a fetus. However, it can give rise to conditions in which emotional causes lead to miscarriage. It is therefore important to manage emotional causes of stress that can lead to miscarriage.

Family Planning

Psychological stress causes a miscarriage when the pregnancy is not planned. Planning reduces stress. When we plan and organise things, it is easier to face tough situations. When we plan on children, we make sure that there are enough resources. We start saving for the children. We also make a mental estimate of resources. Planning can lead to better mental health.

Talk It Out

Although mental stress doesn’t need to cause a miscarriage, the poor mental health of the mother can affect the growth of her baby later. A depressed mother cannot look properly after the needs of her infant. A pregnant woman should often share her feelings with people around her. She should not suppress her emotions. She can talk to her friend. It is advisable to keep a journal or diary to record the pregnancy. The changes in thoughts and feelings.

Share the Load!

A pregnant woman should take adequate rest. She should not engage in work that can tire her. Additionally, she should have people who can look after her mental and emotional needs. The family should make sure that they share the load. Even physical stress can lead to miscarriage. It is therefore important to keep the pregnant woman away from danger. For instance avoiding alcohol, speeding cars or doing excessive household chores. Moreover, reduce all the extra obligations for the mother.

Join a Support Group

Expecting mothers can join a support group to share their experiences. A support group can also advise her on aspects such as managing labour pain, the birthing process and postnatal care. They can guide the woman about her diet, sleep routine and mental well being.

Proper Sources of Information

Read informative books on pregnancy. How to ensure a healthy baby. Stay in touch with the doctors for routine checkups and advice. The psychological stress that causes miscarriage can be reduced if the mother has access to proper sources of information.

Can Psychological stress cause miscarriage? Well, it is tricky to understand the exact link between the two. However, it is important to acknowledge that a pregnant lady goes through a variety of emotions. It is important for her to stay happy so she can raise her infant well. Emotional burnout is common in pregnant women. This burnout is not good in the long run. It can affect her personal life and also the life of her family.

At Epsychonline, some articles and courses help you deal with loss. These courses are created by experts that help you healthily manage your feelings. Do check them out.