How Stress During Pregnancy Causes Miscarriage

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Dr. Sabiha Anjum (Obstetrician and Gynaecologist )
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How Stress During Pregnancy Causes Miscarriage

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Stress is simply our body’s natural response to danger or threat. Stress in small measures may not be all that bad as it can motivate us to perform our best. However, a state of constant stress or high levels of stress can give rise to several health issues. Pregnancy which brings about many physical and emotional changes in a woman’s life can also trigger certain concerns and apprehensions regarding the well-being of the child and the impending subsequent lifestyle changes. Most pregnant women may also wonder if stress can cause miscarriage in the first trimester of their pregnancy.

Many studies indicate that women who are constantly stressed or experience greater amounts of stress may be at a higher risk of a miscarriage, particularly at the time of conception and during the initial days of their pregnancy. Scientists believe that stress may start a chain reaction in a woman’s body during which certain chemicals are produced that negatively impact the growing foetus. This theory can probably explain why some women experience a miscarriage despite no clear medical reason.

Constant stress or increased levels of stress during pregnancy can lead to possible pregnancy complications. However, no conclusive evidence is available, which can prove that stress during pregnancy results in a miscarriage. Nevertheless, women should take care to avoid taking stress while pregnant to prevent needless complications.

Can Stress Cause a Miscarriage?

Miscarriage due to stress – is it a myth or a fact? The answer to this question is not simple. Several studies have established a connection between elevated stress levels during pregnancy and increased risk of a miscarriage. But the results of these studies are non-conclusive mostly because it is difficult to assess stress as a reason for pregnancy loss. Moreover, every individual may handle stress differently. Some people tend to worry a lot more than others. What may seem like a trivial irritation to one individual can prompt a nervous failure in another.

It is normal to experience stress during pregnancy. But, it seems highly unlikely that normal stress can result in a miscarriage. However, it is possible that augmented stress and anxiety during pregnancy can lead to pregnancy loss. In any case, greater stress levels during pregnancy are not desirable as it can result in pregnancy complications. So, it is crucial to address stress issues and practice stress management when pregnant to improve your chances of a smooth pregnancy.

Chronic Stress and Loss of Pregnancy

According to a scientific study, when a person is under great stress, the brain releases several hormones, including a hormone called CRH (corticotrophin-releasing hormone). CRH may also get produced during labour to set off uterine contractions. But during chronic stress, the hormone CRH may attack the mast cells present in the uterus, causing them to emit chemicals that can trigger a miscarriage. The study found higher levels of CRH in women who had suffered multiple miscarriages in comparison to women who had experienced miscarriage once. The study also revealed that the hormone CRH is locally produced in a woman’s uterus and not in her bloodstream. But despite such studies, the notion that stress can cause miscarriage cannot be stated with conviction.

Chronic Stress and Loss of Pregnancy

While your health takes priority, a major lifestyle change is also recommended during pregnancy. Read on for some tips to keep stress away to prevent chances of a miscarriage.

Tips to Keep Stress Away During Pregnancy

First and foremost, it is vital to recognise the cause of your stress. Try and analyse whether the reason for your stress is financial, the welfare of your pregnancy, or concerns regarding management after childbirth. Whatever the reasons are, it is important to keep that stress away during pregnancy. These tips should help you keep your stress levels under check:

  1. Practice deep breathing or belly breathing during pregnancy to lower the stress levels.
  1. You can try cognitive reframing wherein the mind may be consciously trained to perceive probable stressful situations in a rather positive light.
  1. Don’t shy from seeking emotional support during pregnancy. Sharing or talking about your concerns and problems with your family or friends may help you see things in the right perspective and can bring some relief.
  1. Learn to take things easy during pregnancy. Avoid taking on too much work upon yourself and do ask others to lend a helping hand to you whenever required.
  1. Ensure that you get adequate rest and sleep. Taking frequent breaks will prevent you from over-straining yourself.
  1. In case you are a working woman, and your work is the basis of your stress, talk to your boss regarding reducing your workload and flexible work timings. You may also discuss comfortable working conditions to cater to your bodily changes with the advancement of your pregnancy.
  1. Soothing massages, relaxing spa therapies, reflexology, meditation, yoga, and even listening to soothing music during pregnancy can help in easing out the stress.
  1. You can also consider availing psychological therapy sessions with a professional counsellor to learn to manage your stress levels while pregnant.

It may not be possible to avoid stress completely during pregnancy; neither is it possible to conclude with certainty that stress can cause a miscarriage. But, it is always desirable that you learn to manage your stress in a way that it doesn’t hamper your well-being when pregnant.

Also Read: How to Avoid Miscarriage

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