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Can stress cause miscarriage?


There is very little evidence to suggest that stress causes a miscarriage. Many mothers worry that depression or anxiety can affect their unborn baby. However, miscarriages are usually caused by chromosomal abnormalities in the egg, problems in the womb or underlying health conditions.

Stress in pregnancy

Many mothers feel anxious from the strain of pregnancy and thoughts of impending motherhood.

Stress has often been associated with early miscarriage but evidence suggests that there’s very little correlation between the two.

Causes of miscarriage

Early miscarriage, which happens during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, is usually caused by chromosomal abnormalities in the fertilised egg.

Many fertilised eggs are also lost during implantation. If a fertilised egg has chromosomal problems, it can go on to implant in the uterus but the resulting embryo will stop developing or will fail to form at all.

Miscarriages that happen later on in the pregnancy are often caused by underlying health conditions or unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Diabetes and high blood pressure are known to increase the chances of a miscarriage, while kidney disease and thyroid issues can also contribute.

In addition, obesity, smoking, drinking alcohol and drug taking can all increase the likelihood of a miscarriage.

Reducing stress in pregnancy

If you’re struggling with stress, here are five simple steps you can take to relieve anxiety:

    1. Eat well.

It’s crucial to eat well throughout your pregnancy. Food can also lift your mood and help to reduce stress levels.

Oily fish, including salmon, mackerel, sardines and trout are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help combat depression so aim for two portions a week

    1. Take gentle exercise

Exercise is known to boost your mood. Try and fit 20 minutes of gentle exercise into your daily routine.

Swimming is great for increasing your cardiovascular activity without putting too much pressure on your joints. Pregnancy yoga is another good option as it promotes breathing and relaxation techniques.

    1. Rest

Rest is so important during pregnancy, for both you and your baby. Schedule regular breaks, even if you just take 10 minutes to sit down with a cup of tea.

If you’re feeling exhausted at the end of the day, grab an early night. Your body needs all the rest it can get to keep both you and your baby healthy and nourished.

    1. Talk to friends and family

Share your concerns. Talking to your partner or sharing worries with friends will help you feel better.

Antenatal classes are a great opportunity to meet other mums and discuss pregnancy worries. You’ll probably find that you have similar concerns so you won’t feel like you’re on your own.

    1. Try complementary therapies

Indulge in a massage. It’s a great way to de-stress and you can involve your partner too. Many spas and salons provide pregnancy massages and treatments.

Meditation also helps you focus on breathing techniques and can be done in a quiet space at home. Reflexology is another popular therapy, which aids relaxation by targeting pressure points in the feet.

For further advice on pregnancy and reducing stress levels contact your GP or midwife.

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