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Can Stress Cause Miscarriage? The Role of Stress During Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be equal parts exciting and stressful. Since a wide variety of diseases have been linked to stress, you may wonder if there’s a connection between stress and miscarriages. Can stress cause a miscarriage? Read on to find out.

Does stress always accompany pregnancy?

It’s totally normal to feel a bit stressed out during pregnancy. After all, your body is going through some big changes. However, too much stress can cause problems for both you and your developing baby.

The physical changes that occur during pregnancy can trigger feelings of stress. Your hormones change during pregnancy, and this can have an effect on your moods. Parenthood is a big change, and some parents may feel stressed or scared about the transition. Stress during pregnancy can also be caused by difficulties in the workplace or worries about miscarriage. You can discuss these concerns with your doctor during your prenatal appointments.

Too much stress can cause high blood pressure, which is associated with poor pregnancy outcomes such as low birth weight or preterm labor.

High levels of stress can cause a number of problems for both mothers and babies. Too much stress can cause high blood pressure, which is associated with poor pregnancy outcomes such as low birth weight or preterm labor. If you feel very stressed, you could also experience headaches, difficulty sleeping, or changes in your eating habits. 

The evidence of the correlation between stress and miscarriages

A woman having stress during pregnancy

Since stress can negatively affect your health, you may wonder if stress can cause miscarriages. There are some studies that suggest there may be a correlation between stress and miscarriages.

A recent study published in Psychosomatic Medicine reported a connection between extreme stress and miscarriage. Pregnant women who lived in a town that was exposed to life-threatening rocket attacks were compared to pregnant women who lived in an unexposed town. While 6.9 percent of the former group experienced miscarriages, only 4.7 percent of the latter group experienced a pregnancy loss. 

Another study found a similar link. This study, published in the journal Reproduction, reported that social stress during the early stages of pregnancy could be correlated with miscarriages. The study reported that exposure to stress later in pregnancy didn’t have the same effect. In the later stages of pregnancy, stress was found to be correlated with low birth weight. 

The evidence against the link between stress and miscarriages

While some studies have reported that stress might be correlated with miscarriages, many reputable health organizations disagree. A proven, common cause of miscarriage is an embryo with a chromosomal abnormality. This is a random event, and it’s not your fault. 

Many health organizations reassure expecting mothers that stress doesn’t cause miscarriages. The Mayo Clinic reports that there’s no evidence linking stress and miscarriages. Cleveland Clinic also notes that there’s no proof of this connection. 

If stress doesn’t cause miscarriages, what does? The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that about half of all miscarriages are caused by an abnormal number of chromosomes. Normally, a baby gets 23 chromosomes from the egg and 23 chromosomes from sperm. Sometimes, the egg or sperm has a different number of chromosomes. This means that the baby doesn’t develop normally, and a miscarriage can occur. 

The importance of managing stress during pregnancy

Some studies say that stress is correlated with miscarriages, but many health organizations say it isn’t. While stress may not directly cause miscarriages, it can contribute to other conditions that may harm your baby. If you have high blood pressure during pregnancy due to stress, it can be harder for your baby to get enough oxygen and nutrients. This can lead to preterm delivery or a low birth weight. High blood pressure can also lead to placental abruption. This means your placenta detaches from the wall of your uterus, which can cut off your baby’s oxygen. 

How to manage stress while you’re pregnant

A woman is listening to the music to manage stress while she is pregnant

Too much stress isn’t good for you or your baby. During your pregnancy, focus on healthy self-care practices to control your stress. Try to stay away from unhealthy coping mechanisms. 

Eating a healthy diet and getting lots of sleep can also help you feel better. Exercising regularly is another great way to reduce stress. Brisk walking, stationary bicycling, prenatal yoga, and swimming are some good activities during pregnancy. Talking about your stress with family or friends can also lighten the load. 

Self-medicating with drugs, alcohol, or unhealthy food is never a good way to manage stress, but it should definitely be avoided during pregnancy. These types of coping mechanisms could harm your baby. Talk to your doctor about good ways to break these habits if you have concerns.

Science hasn’t yet determined if stress can cause miscarriages. We do know that too much stress isn’t healthy, though. As part of a healthy lifestyle, try to control your stress. If you’re worried about your stress levels, talk to your doctor.

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