Nearly half of women wrongly 'blame themselves' for miscarriage
Women mistakenly believe that stress causes miscarriages, causing them to feel unnecessarily guilty, a new study shows
Published 13/05/2015 | 15:24
Almost half of women who have miscarriages feel guilty and two in five feel like it was caused by something they did wrong, according to an American study.
But in reality, 60 per cent of miscarriages are caused by a genetic problem and they are far more common than people think.
An online study published in the Obstetrics and Gynecology journal found that a large number of women have the wrong ideas about what causes miscarriages, which leads to unnecessary feelings of guilt and shame.
Out of 1,084 surveyed, three quarters mistakenly believed that a stressful event could cause a miscarriage, while 64 per cent thought lifting a heavy object could be a cause.
A fifth believed that previous use of oral contraceptives could cause pregnancy loss; 41 per cent believed it could be caused by an STD and 21 per cent thought a pregnancy would could miscarry from getting into an argument.
In the UK, the NHS website stresses that an increased risk of miscarriage is not linked to a mother’s emotional state, lifting or straining, or having a shock or fright.
The study also found that a fifth of participants incorrectly thought that smoking, or taking drugs and alcohol, were the most common causes of miscarriage, when actually 60 per cent are caused by genetic problems.
More than half thought that miscarriages were uncommon (taking place in less than six per cent of all pregnancies) when actually miscarriages end one in four pregnancies, and are the most common pregnancy complication.
Study author Dr Zev Williams, director of the Program for Early and Recurrent Pregnancy Loss at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System, explained: “Most people think it’s an incredibly rare event, so when it happens to them they feel very isolated and they will look to themselves and think they must have done something wrong."
The study found that when people heard about other women having miscarriages, it helped them deal with their own experiences.
Almost half said they felt less alone when friends spoke out about miscarriages while 28 per cent said that celebrities talking about their miscarriages helped them feel less isolated.
Dr Williams said: “Patients who had been suffering from miscarriages would come in and I would explain to them that miscarriages were common, and this was a shocking revelation for them.
“On top of that, when I would explain to them that there wasn’t anything that they did to cause a miscarriage, you would see this tremendous sense of relief come over them. I think invariably what happens in miscarriages is that patients sort of look back at the week leading up to the miscarriage, and women generally blame themselves for it.”