These suggestions for coping with miscarriage after fertility treatments are based on recent research. Feelings of depression and sadness may be stronger if you miscarried after assisted reproduction (eg, IVF, IUI) than if you got pregnant naturally.
About 20% (one in five) of pregnancies that are a result of fertility treatments end in a miscarriage, says Dr. Cheung Sze Yan Charleen of Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong. His researchers found that coping with miscarriage after getting pregnant via fertility treatments is more complicated and difficult. Here’s a summary of their research, plus links to help coping with miscarriage.
If you’re having trouble coping with a miscarriage, read Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: Surviving the Death of Your Baby by Deborah L. Davis. It wasn’t written specifically for women coping with miscarriage after fertility treatments, but it may help you grieve and heal.
Research on Coping With Miscarriage After Fertility Treatments
This research team looked at the psychological impact of a first-trimester miscarriage (the first 12 weeks of pregnancy). They compared comparing stress, anxiety, and depression levels of 75 women who conceived naturally and 75 who conceived via fertility treatments. The two groups of women varied in average age (37 years for the assisted reproduction group, versus 31 for the natural conception group), and the average time when the miscarriage occurred (six days earlier in the assisted reproduction group). I would’ve thought that coping with miscarriage after fertility treatments gets more difficult the longer the pregnancy lasts, but it depends on the women.
The highest stress and depression levels in both groups of women coping with miscarriage were seen after one week. But the assisted reproduction group had significantly higher scores of anxiety, depression, and stress after the miscarriage after four weeks and 12 at weeks. They were also nearly twice as likely to develop “significant psychological morbidity” such as severe depression (9.3 percent versus 5.3 percent).
These researchers concluded that women who conceive after assisted reproductive techniques experience significantly higher stress, anxiety, and depression levels than who women who conceived naturally.
Help Coping With Miscarriage
- Seek grief counseling.
- Ask for help coping with the traumatic aspects of miscarriage include pain, bleeding, and possible rapid hospitalization – in addition to the loss of your baby.
- Don’t ignore your feelings of pain and depression. Coping with miscarriage after fertility treatments is very serious.
- Be aware of the potential long-term impact for negative emotions after miscarriage – perhaps even more than a year later.
- Be aware of the range of different reactions to stress associated with miscarriage. Depression is the most common reaction, followed by grief, guilt, and anxiety.
- Learn the common responses to miscarriage after fertility treatments. For instance, some women regarded their miscarriage as a personal failure and were concerned that a disease, something they had eaten, or even inhalation of car exhaust fumes may have triggered the miscarriage.
- Think about attending a grief support group for women coping with infertility, miscarriages, and fertility treatments.
It’s important to remember that different things work for different women who are coping with miscarriage. Some women want to try fertility treatments again right away, while others want to take a break. Some women want to grieve the loss of their pregnancy by organizing a memorial or prayer service, while others don’t want to talk about it.
There is no “better or worse” way to cope with miscarriage after fertility treatments. One way to cope is to allow yourself to grieve the loss of your baby, and get the help you need before your feelings become unmanageable or overwhelming.
“Though miscarriage is common, women are often unprepared for the loss and suffer a range of psychological reactions from grief, to anxiety and depression,” says Pierre Martin Hirsch, who edits the Journal. “The findings of this study emphasize the importance of early identification and appropriate management processes to help improve the psychological well-being of women who miscarry.”
Some women hold themselves responsible for the miscarriage, especially if they felt they were under undue stress, did not want the baby enough, or perhaps had negative thoughts that triggered the miscarriage.
Source of research information on coping with miscarriage after fertility treatments: Miscarriage Harder on Moms Who Undergo Fertility Treatment on PsychCentral. The full research article can be found at: Cheung, C. S-Y C. et al. Stress and anxiety-depression levels following first trimester miscarriage: a comparison between women who conceived naturally and following assisted reproduction. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.