Can Stress Cause a Miscarriage?

Can Stress Cause a Miscarriage?

Ahh, stress.

The vicious cycle of stressing too much… then, stressing about stressing too much… and not being able to stop stressing.

It’s stressful. 😅

But, when we’re stressed, increased cortisol (the stress hormone) is released into the bloodstream. [1]

There’s loads of evidence that high levels of cortisol have damaging effects on your body — not just for pregnancy, but for all aspects of life.

But, can it cause pregnancy complications, or miscarriages?

Or is that simply a myth?

We’re here to guide you through the ins and outs of stress and miscarriages, together. ❤️

In this article: 📝

  • Can you miscarry from stress?
  • What are the symptoms of high stress during pregnancy?
  • How to keep stress at bay during pregnancy

Can you miscarry from stress?

While stress is known to sometimes be harmful to your body, there are no known links that stress can cause a miscarriage. [2]

It’s actually a misconception — such as the same as having a shock, lifting or straining during pregnancy, and having sex during pregnancy.

None of these things, stress included, are proven to cause a miscarriage. 😌 [3]

But, that being said, stress isn’t necessarily good for the baby, or yourself, either.

How can stress affect your pregnancy?

Although there’s no evidence to suggest stress directly causes a miscarriage, it could impact your pregnancy in other ways.

You may find that stress could cause you to have trouble sleeping, headaches, a loss of appetite, or a tendency to overeat (eating for two may take on a whole new meaning here!). 🍪

But, you might experience especially negative effects on your pregnancy if the stress is experienced for a long period of time…

For example, high blood pressure can be caused by consistently high levels of stress. [4]

Extreme stress could also put you at a higher risk of premature birth, or the baby being born with a low birth weight. [5] [6]

That’s why it’s said that stress is bad for your baby — and you should try and do what you can to reduce your stress levels, especially later on in your pregnancy (more on this later 👇).


Can stress cause birth defects?

In some cases, stress might be a cause of birth defects.

The Society for Birth Defects Research & Prevention has said that a few studies have reported stress-related malformations. [7]

Another study backs this up, which conducted telephone interviews with 1355 mothers where maternal stress was measured by responses to a questionnaire. [8]

The study suggested an increase in stressful life events was associated with an increased risk of certain birth defects, such as cleft palate/lip, d-transposition of the great arteries, and tetralogy of Fallot (a congenital heart condition).

Can stress cause a miscarriage in early pregnancy?

Again, there’s no evidence that stress can cause a miscarriage in early pregnancy.

Although stress can have some impacts on your pregnancy as we discussed above, the links between stress and miscarriage are not proven.

So, you can relax on that front, mama-to-be. 😌

What type of stress is bad in pregnancy?

But, stress isn’t always bad…

The stress response can actually protect your body from things at times, such as the fight or flight response.

And, it’s normal to feel some level of stress during your pregnancy — you are growing a human after all! 🤰

But, there are types of stress that are worse than others…

For example, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can negatively affect your baby, increasing the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. [9]

PTSD occurs after going through or seeing a painful or traumatic event, and you’d likely experience anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, and strong physical reactions.

If you believe you have PTSD and you’re pregnant, reach out to your doctor as soon as possible, so they can guide you on the best course of action for you and your growing babe. 🩺

What are the symptoms of high stress during pregnancy?

First off, stress is a personal thing.

It’s tricky to diagnose generically, as what feels or looks like stress to one person may not be to another.

But, some of the most common signs of stress to watch out for include:

  • 💤 Trouble sleeping
  • 😩 Feelings of panic or worry
  • 😓 Feeling tearful, sad, or upset
  • 😵‍💫 Feelings of burnout

You may also experience some headaches from intense feelings of stress, especially over a long period of time.

Some women also experience depression in pregnancy (antenatal depression), which affects 7% of women. [10]

This could include anxiety, panic attacks, and psychosis.

If you have any of these symptoms, or you’re finding your stress difficult to manage, speak with your doctor as soon as possible. 👩‍⚕️


How to keep stress at bay during pregnancy

But, fear not, mama-to-be — there are some crafty ways to keep stress levels low. 😌

Whether your stress is baby/pregnancy-related, or it’s because of personal things that are also happening in your life, here are a few tips you can try to keep calm:

  • 🏃‍♀️ Exercise: Another misconception is that exercise can cause a miscarriage during pregnancy. This is not the case, and exercise is actually really beneficial for baby, and for you! Exercise can release positive endorphins which can counteract negative feelings. So, it’s a win-win!
  • 🍏 Diet: Eating healthily, and having a balanced diet, can help to reduce stress, as well as keeping you and baby healthy and happy. [11]
  • 😮‍💨 Breathing: Who knew breathing correctly could be so powerful (and, also, that there’s a correct way to breathe to keep cortisol at bay!)? Try some breathing exercises (in for 10, out for 10 should you get you started), and see if that helps to keep things calm. Also, you may want to try meditation tracks to help clear your mind of any business.
  • ❌ Eliminate your triggers: Easier said than done — we know. But, if you know that driving, for example, stresses you out, maybe choose public transport or play Passenger Princess for the next few months until baby is here. 👸
  • 💬 Talk it out: Got someone you can talk to about the stressors in your life? Or perhaps you’d benefit from some talking therapy? Whoever it is, chatting to someone is super important to help ease any worries.
  • 💤 Rest: Feeling burnout? This is especially common when you already have a little one (or more!) to keep alive, who’s intent on running you around. 🙃 This is where you’ll need to lean on your support network, and let other people help you to manage the load. Exhaustion or irregular sleeping habits can lead to negative feelings, including stress.
  • Hypnobirthing: If it’s pregnancy-related stress you’re encountering, specifically around childbirth, consider hypnobirthing classes as a way to learn more about how to prepare your body for this moment. Based on science-backed concepts, hypnobirthing focuses on replacing adrenaline and cortisol with that all-important oxytocin during labor.
  • 👩‍⚕️ Speak to your doctor: And, of course, if you’re finding your pregnancy stress unmanageable, that’s what your doc is there for. They may be able to prescribe you something to help, and give you some more tips and strategies to keep stress at bay.

🔍 Learn The Basics: Hypnobirthing 101 🤰

So, there you have it — all you need to know about stress and miscarriages.

And remember, if you’re finding the stress too much, seek support from healthcare professionals, as they can guide you on what’s the appropriate treatment for your pregnancy.

But, in the meantime, our Peanut Community is always here — night or day — to help with issues just like this.

Join the conversation today. 🥜


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