It is tough to study and pin-point stress as the causing factor in any pregnancy loss. Let me ask you something. Is there any human being out there who does not feel some level of stress in day-to-day life? Is it even humanly possible? And each one of us processes that stress differently. For example, a minor issue to one person might be the cause of a severe panic attack in another person.
For all the pregnant women out there, please remember that it is not just you. Every pregnant woman worries at least a little bit during the pregnancy, irrespective of how strong they are. They might worry about the pregnancy or some other life factors. But worry is there. So stop feeling anxious that you are worrying a lot. So since the beginning of time, women are worried during pregnancy and yet giving birth to healthy children.
When a woman who suffers miscarriage thinks back on the factors that could have led to the loss, it is straightforward for her to assume that it is because of the stress she took. It leads to self-blame, especially if doctors are unable to explain the reason. Then, of course, we have our close ones who will be quick to point out that the loss would not have happened if we had only remembered to relax.
Most often, pregnant women are worried about how not to worry leading to additional stress. So whatever I discuss today should stop pregnant women from taking up unnecessary stress.
Facts on Stress and Miscarriage
There are various scientific theories on exactly why stress during pregnancy would affect the baby. There is a hormone called cortisol. Research shows that this hormone tends to be elevated in people feeling stressed. Also, let me tell you that it is normal for this hormone to be elevated during pregnancy, but if it is above-average, then it can be linked to miscarriage.
Some researchers believe that this elevated cortisol could move to the placenta and cause problems.
Some studies found connections between the enzymes that help the body regulate stress and increased risk of miscarriage. A study also found both depression and stress were more common in women who had recurrent miscarriages.
We also need to consider the effect of stress the immune system functioning. So, now you have enough information on studies and research on the link between the two.
What does this mean?
Let me tell you that Inspite of all these studies, currently, no one can scientifically prove or claim that “stress causes miscarriages.”
But I would not be accurate if I said that it’s a myth that stress can cause pregnancy loss.
But one thing is for sure-It is unlikely that normal stress such as worrying about your finances or deadlines at work, would affect pregnancy. But we cannot rule out the fact that significant levels of stress could cause miscarriage.
Most women who have a miscarriage always worry that they will have another. But in my experience, most miscarriages have been a one-off event.
Only about 1 in 100 women experience recurrent miscarriages. This means three or more miscarriages in a row. But again these women to go on to have a successful pregnancy.
Stress Management for Pregnant Women
Some stress factors cannot be avoided when pregnant-easier said than done, but what we can do is gradually change the way we experience stress. I will give you a simple but effective tool. It is called cognitive reframing. Start looking at every small thing in life with positivity and gratitude. Even if you see negativity all around, immediately switch your thoughts to something positive. This art cannot develop overnight. But it has helped a lot of women I have seen. Whenever you feel negative thoughts creeping up, do something you enjoy. Stop watching the news for some time and dedicate the time to read, write, listen to music or meditation. Instead of allowing fear to rule your mind, let pleasant thoughts take over your mind. You could talk to people who instantly uplift your mood. Of course, you could be that person to yourself.