The Emotional Consequences of Recurrent Miscarriage

Recurrent miscarriage is a rare condition, but it seriously affects couples who want to have a baby.
The Emotional Consequences of Recurrent Miscarriage
Sara González Juárez

Written and verified by the psychologist Sara González Juárez.

Last update: 08 October, 2022

Spontaneous termination of pregnancy is an event that affects approximately ten to 15 percent of pregnant women. However, five percent of this group suffer from them repeatedly. For this reason, the emotional consequences of recurrent miscarriage are studied. Indeed, they entail great psychological wear and tear.

As a rule, after a miscarriage, the physical consequences for the woman are evaluated, since there’s a risk of intrauterine infection or a curettage might be necessary. However, the psychological consequences of infertility often don’t receive professional attention. This can have serious consequences.

In this article, you can explore these consequences. It’s well worth reading, as this subject is an important topic in reproductive psychology that’s often overlooked.

Sad woman
When recurrent miscarriage occurs, it causes psychological pain.

Recurrent miscarriage

Recurrent miscarriage is said to occur when a woman has lost three or more pregnancies. To be considered spontaneous, it must be involuntary and occur before the 20th week of pregnancy. Or, the fetus weighs less than 500 grams. If these conditions don’t occur, it’s considered to be an intrauterine fetal death.

The physical consequences of miscarriage must be monitored, as there are several risks to the health of the pregnant woman. For instance, the risk of infection increases, as does the risk of bleeding, and menstruation won’t return until four to six weeks after the miscarriage. Nevertheless, the emotional consequences of recurrent miscarriage are often not taken into account as much as the physical ones.

The emotional effects of recurrent miscarriage

By the time a fetus approaches 20 weeks, the parents have had time to create an identity for it in their minds. They’ve seen ultrasounds, the bulge of the mother’s belly is already visible, and they may already know the sex of the child. All this contributes to it being seen as a future member of the family, regardless of the fact that it’s not yet fully developed.

In some cases, recurring irrational thoughts occur in women that can lead them to question themselves in many aspects. If this internal dialogue continues over time and isn’t identified, it can end up leading to low self-esteem, anxiety, or depression.

In addition, when a miscarriage occurs, each member of the couple goes through a kind of mourning similar to that of the death of a loved one. Some of the most common symptoms are:

  • Shock or disbelief at the time of the miscarriage.
  • Sadness.
  • Feelings of helplessness.
  • Feelings of guilt.
  • Despair.

In some instances, mourning for an unborn loss can last up to a year. Added to this is the fact that, in recurrent miscarriages, depressive symptoms can become an illness instead of being accepted and recognized as a part of life.

Predictors of pathological grief due to recurrent miscarriage

This loss is significant for anyone trying to have a child. In fact, the physical consequences, added to the emotional stress, can plunge the woman into a depressive state. However, not everyone has the same strengths and resources to adapt to it:

  • Quality of the relationship. When the relationship is poor, any emotional adjustment to the miscarriage is worse.
  • Personal grief. Each partner will have their own way of dealing with the consequences of recurrent miscarriage. These individual differences can cause conflict between them, thus aggravating the situation.
  • Desire for pregnancy. As would be expected, the greater the desire to have offspring, the greater the pain of loss.
  • Having children before the loss. As a rule, those couples who already have children tend to handle miscarriage a little better, since they don’t have to face the possibility of never being able to become parents.
  • Social support. If the sufferer has a healthy and supportive social network, their grief will be lighter.
  • Personality and emotional management style. The emotional capacities of the individual also count when it comes to predicting depression or pathological grief.
Woman doing therapy
Psychological therapy helps the couple cope with these losses.

How to deal with recurrent miscarriage grief

If you’re reading this article because you’ve suffered recurrent miscarriages, you need to know that it’s possible to recover from this repeated loss. Although at times, it may seem that your life will have no meaning if you’re unable to achieve the goal of gestation, it’s possible to find yourself again and be happy.

First of all, you must pay attention to the aspects we’ve mentioned in this article. You must consider your physical health since diseases such as diabetes or hypertension can influence pregnancy and must be controlled. Therefore, you must lead a healthy life and attend all of your medical check-ups during pregnancy.

Finally, don’t hesitate to consult a psychologist to help you through the process, whether it involves pregnancy, artificial insemination, or miscarriage. This will help you preserve your mental health, despite any bad times you’re currently going through.

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Perinatal Therapy: Its Application and Aims
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  • Guadix, B. R., Navarro, L. M., Paredes, A. G., & Jimenez, J. F. (2012). Epidemiología del aborto de repetición. Progresos de Obstetricia y Ginecología55(7), 312-320.
  • Muñoz, M. A., & Engels, V. (2018). Etiología y tratamiento de los abortos de repetición. Toko-ginecología práctica, (761), 363-372.
  • Rodríguez Valero, C. G. (2016). Valoración de síntomas de depresión y ansiedad en pacientes con aborto espontáneo (Doctoral dissertation, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León).

The contents of Exploring Your Mind are for informational and educational purposes only. They don't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment of a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.