Why Stress Causes Miscarriages in Pregnancy

I really don’t like writing about unhappy things but who does? I felt a need to write this piece to encourage and warn the women out there why it’s so important to keep happy during your pregnancy as your baby is the most important thing to you at that time.

Someone near and dear to my heart had a miscarriage last year. This someone is very important to my life and it would be the last person on earth who I wished for such a terrible event. I also think that the miscarriage just added to her perspective on life. She was already not a naturally positive person to begin with and for such a tragedy to happen, I was afraid she would never recover. Let’s name this person Ann for right now since I don’t want to share her real name here.

Ann is a headstrong woman who always wanted appear the best and functioning properly in front of others. She’s tall, attractive, and always had a smiley face when she’s with her co-workers and friends. However, with her husband and family, she was often moody and frequently woke up in the morning just feeling depressed for no reason. Due to her profession (where most people listened to her and had to act at the mercy of her actions), she needed to always be right but yet also liked to be politically correct so she liked to correct everything everyone said and not take in advice as she feels she can make the right decision. This led to arguments at home and with her husband.

When Ann got pregnant, she was elated and spread the word among friends and family. Everyone was very happy for her. She was now on a course to be the best pregnant woman. However, instead of stressing about the health of the baby, she got very stressed about other stuff such as buying a car, wanting to buy a home to fit the new child, and stressing about her own weight or what she ate that may or may not increase her weight. She wanted exercise but everyone knows too much exercise in the trimester (depending on your body) could hurt the baby. She didn’t have nausea but yet still “lost” weight during her pregnancy in the first 10 weeks. A last tip of the iceberg on the weight came when her A1C test came out and said she’s more prone to gestational diabetes.

She took this test score and took it like the words of God. She cried hearing this as if it’s the end of the world. She got obsessed about diabetes and literally that became her entire  focus in life and she ranted at how unlucky she was being pregnant with a chance for gestational diabetes. I didn’t see an ounce of happiness in her. All she did was complain daily about how she was hormonal, the baby didn’t make her feel like herself, she may develop gestational diabetes and later real diabetes. Day after day, while I was happy and calm with my pregnancy (even with nausea and severe pelvic pain), I was hearing her complain and complain.

She had bleeding in week 8. It wasn’t brown spotting but was semi red but was not enough to fill a pad. Immediately I had her go to emergency. She had what they called a “threatened” abortion but later her real OB said it was because the baby implanted on a blood vessel that burst. It was no big deal.

She had some spotting in week 10 but went and did an ultrasound and baby was kicking a moving. Heartbeat was normal. It was a Thursday she did her ultrasound and I remember her being happy that the baby was moving a lot. I was so happy for her. However, I saw her Friday for the first time after she got pregnant (we lived in different cities and states at the time) and she looked terrible. Dark eye circles, thin, and pale. She looked a bit possessed or malnutritioned. She kind of looked like Belle in Dark Moon (if you’re not into the Twilight Series, sorry for this comparison). I felt worried.

Then I saw how she ate stressed about diabetes. She even tested me several times for my blood sugar levels, etc. Every time I ate bread in front of her or rice, she would look at me with disapproval as if I may develop diabetes and I am not controlling it. It was hard and actually a bit stressful to be pregnant together with her. Here I am already gained 9 pounds and on my 15th week while she didn’t gain any in her first 10-11 weeks. Did I feel fat? Yes, maybe when I’m around her. Was my baby healthy? Yes and growing faster than average. My point was all the stress evolving around her was making everyone else with her stressed especially her husband. I looked in his tired eyes and felt pitty for the guy who had to deal with her emotional roller coaster.

Saturday and Sunday were very stressful. She fought several times with her husband and on Monday she was in bed half the day being pissed or unhappy about something.

Tuesday rolled around and saw her in the evening. Immediately I felt something was “off.” She had went to the ob that day and they said the baby’s heart stopped beating. The TV in the background suddenly became white noise at the time and I couldn’t hear anything anymore. It was as if the news came to me about myself. I was in a state of shock. Tears rolled out but I quickly pulled them back in after a few minutes of hugging her tightly. I didn’t want her to pity herself. I knew that if I cried hard, she’ll feel even more sorry about herself and that’s the last thing I wanted for someone I loved. I wanted her to stand back up and fight again for another baby.

Ann was someone who couldn’t control her temper all the time. When people didn’t listen to her, she would get angry. She needed stuff to go her way and advice to her is out of the question because she would think you’re questioning her intellectual capacity. Even simple suggestions are rejected as a slap to her ego. It was heard getting to calm her down or even talk about “stress” and the effect of “stress” with her. Prior to her miscarriage, I constantly reminded her to be calm and let stuff go but when I saw her, she was still her old self, stressed out, hot headed, and angry. For some pregnant women, that’s okay but for others, it’s highly detrimental to the point where you could lose your baby.

Stress Hormones

There are different kinds of stress hormones. One of them is called cortisol. This is easily measured in the mother’s blood and when it’s in high levels there, it’s also in the amniotic fluid. An adult with high levels of cortisol could have depression, feel exhausted, and be more prone to illnesses. Studies have also shown that babies in utero with high levels of cortisol also resulted in lower IQ’s later in life and are more prone to attention deficit disorders. How is it that we can risk our babies developing a lifelong disorder or disadvantage just because as mothers, we couldn’t control our temper? This hormone is also linked to having premature babies. Stress is also something that’s released during labor. It helps you release your baby from your body causing uterine contractions. You see movies where the woman is fighting with someone and suddenly she goes into labor? Or old wives tale saying to keep calm or you may go into labor? It comes from somewhere!

Another hormone called CRH: corticotropin-releasing hormone, is released in times of emotional stress or physical stress. These target cells in our body called mast cells which are responsible for causing allergic reactions. Where do you find a lot of mast cells? In the uterus. There was another study I read where women who had miscarriages had higher levels of CRH in the uterus. CRH in mast cells produce many chemicals and toxins that can lead to miscarriages.

Next time you’re thinking of yelling at your husband or someone else or feeling angry, take a deep breathe and tell yourself NOTHING is as important as these 9 months where you are starting to be a mother and being responsible for the health of your baby. Start acting like a mom now. Whatever behavior you don’t want your child to see should be corrected starting now. Tell yourself that you could get mad because he didn’t wash the dishes or you can say it’s not a life or death situation and it’s not as important as being together as a family. Nothing is as important for your baby. Breath deeply more often, smile, and enjoy your pregnancy. Even though I have severe pelvic pain during my entire pregnancy, I still am in bursts of joy now when I feel her move inside my tummy. Every time I see her in ultrasound, I’m emotional. I’m even emotional when I see my husband as we’re about to have a family of our own and everything’s different. My emotional roller coaster evolves around happiness and not anger or worries. As I plan for my baby’s future (yes, looking at daycares and school now while she’s in utero), I feel a sense of vibrant energy. I can’t believe I’ll be holding her in 10 weeks. Her future is in my hands (and my uterus I guess) and I won’t let anything be getting in the way of her health.

Just remember that next time.

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