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Can Stress Lead to Miscarriage?

Updated on October 21, 2014

Can Stress Affect a Pregnancy?

On the Misdiagnosed Miscarriage site, many women show up because their doctors have said they might miscarry.

Enough research has been done to show that scaring a woman prematurely may not be the best course of action. If a woman is bleeding or having some complication, then, yes, worry will happen. However, we see, over and over, many women are scared unnecessarily by their physicians and nurses. .

Keep in mind, miscarriage is unfortunately all too common. Reading this study will not magically change the course your pregnancy will take. It will however give you information that may save your pregnancy if you are misdiagnosed.

I believe every woman deserves to have no doubt before having her pregnancy ended.

The Waterlily Pond with the Japanese Bridge, 1899 Poster

I am not a medical professional. The information I share is meant to supplement the information given you by your doctor. If you feel your doctor is not doing enough for you or not willing to listen to your concerns, I strongly encourage you to take what you've learned here and get a second opinion.

Why Stress can Increase Your Risk of Miscarriage

Stress can affect a pregnancy and doctors need to remember, they are sometimes a source of our stress especially when worrying us unnecessarily.

Stress triggers the production of cortisol in our body. Cortisol is produced in greater quatities when we are stressed or scared. It can cause an elevation in blood pressure and lower immune response. Sometimes you hear about people who have been severely injured but managed to so something miraculous like save somebody else from a fire. Well, that is cortisol at work. It lessens pain and gives us that burst of energy in highly stressful situations.

Why is increased cortisol a problem in pregnancy?

As cortisol increases, progesterone decreases. In your regular menstrual cycle, after ovulation progesterone is produced to thicken the uterine lining. If no egg implants, then falling levels of progesterone trigger the shedding of that lining and your period begins. To maintain a healthy pregnancy, your body needs to keep up the progesterone production to protect that lining as well as the baby within you.

When Should a Doctor Mention a Possible Miscarriage?

Knowing that stress can actually be harmful to a pregnancy, when should a doctor mention that a woman may miscarry?

Should the physician wait until the miscarriage is happening?

If the physician is uncertain, should he monitor her more frequently before saying anything?

Should the physician mention it whenever he believes a miscarriage might be a possibility?

Many women report different reactions from their physicians. I get emails all the time from women whose doctors do not see the baby at only five or six weeks and diagnose a possible miscarriage. These women email me frantically wondering if there could still be hope. Some doctors give hope. Some doctors give only doom and gloom. Sometimes these women miscarry. Sometimes they go on to find their babies. In these cases, mentioning a possible miscarriage almost inevitably leads to incredible stress and often wait weeks to find out with any certainty. There is nothing that can be done to prevent miscarriage in these cases so should women be told this early especially when many women do not see their babies this early?

The physicians most guilty of stressing out their pregnant patients are the ones who do routine early ultrasounds. Until fairly recently in time, women were not monitored with ultrasound so early and often did not know they were going to miscarry until it was actually happening. Early ultrasounds can be beneficial if you suspect an ectopic pregnancy or some other complication. Some doctors use early ultrasound simply to date the pregnancy. Well, we've seen on the Misdiagnosed Miscarriage site that many women who know exactly when they conceived often are told they date one to two weeks behind which is an impossibility. These women, though, tend to have a retroverted uterus and dating is often right on again during the second trimester when the uterus is no longer tilted. Many of the women scared needlessly are given no hope only because they date a week or two behind. Since dating behind is fairly common, there are a lot of women needlessly frightened by their physicians. Also, we've seen that many women with a tilted uterus do not see their babies until eight or nine weeks and sometimes beyond! Many doctors give no hope after the seven-week ultrasound. Thank goodness I turned down my own D&C at seven and eight weeks because they found my baby at nearly nine weeks!

If You Are Pregnant and Stressed...

If you are stressed during pregnancy, what can be done? Well, many folks will tell you to relax and not worry.

Oh, that's easy...right???

No, of course staying peaceful and calm is not always easy. You're stressed for a reason. What you can do, however, if try to eliminate some of the stress from your life. Little things can make a huge difference. Some women go on mini-vacations. Some women get some extra help around the house. Exercise but do not overdo it. Not only can exercise lower your cortisol levels but it can increase endorphins which make you feel good. Also, many women tell me that just having somebody who will listen and be supportive helps so much.

What About Progesterone Supplements?

Many women have their progesterone levels checked during the first trimester and take supplements if their progesterone levels are low or are dropping. While progesterone cannot save a pregnancy destined to miscarry, it can help if the reason you are miscarrying is because of low progesterone. Some women suffer from low progesterone and supplements do seem to help in those cases.

Can progesterone supplements help if you are stressed? That I do not know but getting your levels checked may be a good idea. If they are not within the normal range or seem to be dropping, discuss supplementation with your physician.

If you are interested in reading more, check out my Progesterone and Miscarriage page.

Should physicians wait until they are more certain this is a miscarriage before mentioning it?

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I believe every woman deserves to have no doubt before having her pregnancy ended.

Need to contact the author? You may e-mail Cari_Kay at misdiagnosedmiscarriage@gmail.com

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    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 4 years ago

      I was so stressed with my third pregnancy, since I already had lost two babies. The doctor was really nice, though, and made sure I heard the heart-beat at every visit (and there were many!). This really calmed me down and all went well.

    • Melissa Miotke profile image

      Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

      It's scary that stress than hurt your baby since it's hard to control stress but at least it is something we have some control over. I personally do lots of yoga to de-stress:)

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image
      Author

      Kay 5 years ago

      @junecampbell: thank you!

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 5 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      I think you are doing a great service by educating women about miscarriage the way you do in your many lenses.

    • jadapotata profile image

      jadapotata 5 years ago

      Great lens!

    • Srena44 profile image

      Srena44 5 years ago

      nice lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      ok well i have been stressed and on pred due to out of control asthma which causes me to produce more cortisol so i can reduce inflammation in my lungs i have now been off of it for 1 whole week. I have not been very sick at all and i already look 4 months pregnant! i am hoping my baby is ok! i will be 9 wks this coming Sat!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Stress is a big factor in many things that go on with the human body.

    • profile image

      teo_mar 5 years ago

      I like this lens! Bravo!

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image
      Author

      Kay 5 years ago

      @aponline: I am so very sorry to hear that. Stress is just so detrimental to a pregnancy.

    • profile image

      aponline 5 years ago

      I had a miscarriage due to on the job stress!! Great lens and very informative.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Brilliant coverage....

    • KReneeC profile image

      KReneeC 5 years ago

      Wow.. Another great lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I have known women who misscarried because they lived in a geopathic stress zone - the stress is unrelenting - I know this from personal experience.