Studies Acknowledge How Traumatic Miscarriage Is — So Why Doesn’t Society?


The traumatic aftermath of a miscarriage, even an early one, is an empirically proven, statistically significant trend.

When you have a miscarriage, everybody wants you to feel better. A lot of people want you to feel better at any cost, even the cost of denying what’s actually happened. So they try to comfort you, but their comfort sounds a lot like dismissal: I was told, “It’s for the best. You wouldn’t have wanted an unhealthy baby. You’ll be pregnant again before you know it.”

One of my friends got, “You have too many kids anyway.

Another, “With your health, this was for the better.

Another heard, “It was God’s will. There was probably something wrong with the baby anyway.”

People mean well. But words like this don’t acknowledge the fact that a miscarriage is a traumatic experience, and you can’t make trauma disappear by telling somebody that their trauma is not real, not legitimate.

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Many serious scientific studies, in fact, are pointing to the fact that a miscarriage has lasting, serious effects on a woman’s mental health. One study found that a full 25 percent of women followed had post-traumatic stress disorder a month later. And 7 percent of them still had it four months later.

I read that study today, and my first thought was, “Oh. So that’s what that is.” Because it’s been 18 months since my miscarriage, and I still have occasional flashbacks, where I see that a part of my mind still lives in the middle of that day, and might always live there.

Another study reports finding that “[a] large number of women having experienced a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy fulfill the diagnostic criteria for probable PTSD. Many suffer from moderate-to-severe anxiety, and a lesser number depression. Psychological morbidity, and in particular PTSD symptoms, persists at least three months following pregnancy loss.”

A study from the Irish Journal of Psychology found that 44 percent of women who had miscarried during their first trimester showed “clinical levels of psychological distress,” even months later. That includes depression, panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety.

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**This excerpt originally appeared on Published with permission. 

Anna O'Neil
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Anna O'Neil writes, raises kids, and gets excited about birds. She lives by the motto that "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly," and spends most of her free time trying to figure out what she's supposed to be doing with her free time. You can find her writing at Aleteia, Verily, and Mind&Spirit.