No matter how healthy you are, or how well your pregnancy is going, worrying about miscarriage is something that most of us can’t help but do. This is especially true for people who have miscarried previously, or have had to overcome challenges to conceive. If you’re wondering how to stop worrying about miscarriage, experts agree that it is possible to put your fears at ease — or at the very least, decrease overwhelming feelings of doubt and uncertainty.
“Worry about the safety of your child, friends who have experienced miscarriage, and experiencing miscarriage before can all drive anxiety about miscarriage,” neuropsychologist Dr. Sanam Hafeez tells Romper. No matter where you’re at in your pregnancy journey, miscarriage is a completely valid concern, but the anxiety it brings can be crippling. Here’s how to manage those feelings, and get help if those normal worries veer into a more powerful prenatal anxiety that would benefit from treatment.
Knowing your actual miscarriage risk may help
One in four pregnancies will end in miscarriage, says Dr. Lora Shahine, a double board-certified physician who specializes in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. “The majority of miscarriages happen in the first trimester and the risk increases with age, certain medical conditions, and reproductive history,” she explains.
The maternal and child-focused health organization, March of Dimes, reports that up to 95% of miscarriages happen prior to the 12th week of pregnancy, with miscarriage in the second trimester occurring in only 1 to 5 in 100 pregnancies.
“The most common cause of first trimester miscarriage is a genetic issue within the embryo, specifically a chromosome imbalance,” Shahine explains. “There are some medical factors in the people conceiving that can lead to increased risk of miscarriage, so an evaluation may include testing anatomy, hormone levels, immune issues, genetics, and counseling may include lifestyle changes to optimize overall health.”
Repeat miscarriages, or recurrent pregnancy loss, occur in about 1% of women, with up to 75% having no known cause, according to March of Dimes. However, of those who experience repeat miscarriages, 65% do go on to have a successful pregnancy eventually. If you’ve had more than one miscarriage in a row, your OB or health care provider may monitor you a bit more closely, and that may offer some comfort as you wait out the nerve-wracking first 12 weeks.
How miscarriage worries can manifest
“When you’re in the early stages of pregnancy, it’s natural to feel a whole host of different emotions, including fear,” therapist and author Dr. Michele Kambolis explains. “Worry thrives in future-focused fear-based thinking. The driving force of all worry is the question what if? When pregnant moms go down the pathways of what if the mental stories feed anxiety and fear, impacting the entire mind-body system.”
This loop of anxiety can lead to a plethora of unwelcome feelings that can send you into a spiral of worry about whether or not you’ll miscarry. “Anxiety might cause women to be preoccupied with small signs and symptoms of a pregnancy loss” Dr. Barbara Stegmann, a former fertility specialist and current clinical lead for women’s health at Organon, tells Romper.
How to stop worrying about miscarriage when you’ve miscarried before
“Miscarriages can be very scary, especially because there is very little that can be done to stop or prevent one,” Stegmann tells Romper. “For women who have had a previous loss, I’ve found that there is a tendency for her to ‘hold her breath’ until she has passed the time when the previous loss occurred.”
Speaking from the perspective of someone who has experienced multiple miscarriages herself and counseled women for 25 years, Kambolis says that practicing self-compassion is one key to getting through miscarriage worries. “Holding yourself with compassion and honoring the vulnerability of your experience helps dissolve the impact of trauma,” she explains. “Practices like loving kindness meditation train the brain to shore up compassion, healing our hearts and minds in the most difficult of times.”
Although she notes that that it’s certainly “easier said than done,” Hafeez also advises taking things one day at a time. “Affirm each day and celebrate the completion of each week. This helps you to stop worrying about the future and think only about today.”
Expert share tips for how to stop worrying about miscarriage
The old adage that knowledge is power can certainly hold true when you’re concerned about miscarrying. “To cope with anxiety regarding miscarriage, educate yourself on how to recognize what your body is going through and understand the best way to protect your health and your baby’s wellbeing,” Hafeez tells Romper. “Make sure also to attend regular prenatal checkups to reduce your risk of a miscarriage.”
While holding an awareness that — in many ways — miscarriage is beyond your control, it may help to focus on the things that you can control, suggests Hafeez. Simple things like eating a healthy diet, moving your body regularly, staying hydrated, or even journaling as a way to alleviate anxious feelings can help redirect your nervous energy.
Deep breathing, or even a simple meditation practice, can really help, too. “Anchoring in the breath is one of the most potent healing mechanisms we have when we feel worried and afraid,” Kambolis says. “We know that slow, deep breathing — like 4,4,6,2 breathing — supports health by turning up the soothing parasympathetic nervous system and tamping down the activating sympathetic nervous system, a sure route to feeling calmer.”
If a little worry turns into prenatal anxiety, know that help is available
If your anxiety is affecting your day-to-day life, or you feel overwhelmed by it at all, know that there’s no reason to “white-knuckle” through. Prenatal anxiety is common, and many excellent treatments are available. Your OB can prescribe medications to help, and perinatal mental health specialists are an excellent resource, too. Postpartum Support International offers support for perinatal mental health disorders via a crisis line, and has a wealth of other resources, too, from support groups to lists of providers.
Also, as tempting as it is to connect with others online, it can be helpful to stop scrolling. “In general, I would try to avoid relying solely on information from the web, as it may often not be relevant to your specific situation,” Stegmann says. Lean on other moms who have been there, speak to a therapist, or talk to your health care provider to help guide you through the overwhelm of miscarriage worries.
Dr. Michele Kambolis, therapist and author of When Women Rise: Everyday Practices to Strengthen Your Mind, Body, and Soul
Dr. Sanam Hafeez, neuropsychologist in NYC, director of Comprehend the Mind
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