Pregnancy Loss Leaves Behind Years Of Grief For Parents

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The loss of a pregnancy can have a devastating effect on parents. Many couples immediately try again and are successful, then imaging that the original pain and mental anguish will subside with the new life created. However, a new British study shows that women at least, continue to suffer from mental health problems associated with miscarriage or stillbirth long after they may feel they've "moved on." To the contrary, women may continue to experience symptoms for several years after the postnatal period.

... women who had lost a baby in the past experienced significantly higher levels of anxiety and depression during pregnancy and this continued nearly three years after they gave birth to a healthy baby.

... although a woman physically recovers from a miscarriage quickly, psychological recovery for parents in general can take a long time. People differ greatly in this regard, meaning that some are able to move on after a few months, but others take more than a year. Still others may feel relief or other less negative emotions ... 55% of the miscarrying women presented with significant psychological distress immediately, 25% at 3 months; 18% at 6 months, and 11% at 1 year after miscarriage.

For those who do go through a process of grief, it is often as if a baby had been born but died. How short a time the fetus lived in the womb may not matter for the feeling of loss. From the moment pregnancy is discovered, the parents can start to bond with the embryo or fetus. When the pregnancy turns out not to be viable, dreams, fantasies and plans for the future are roughly disturbed.

A woman's chance of miscarriage increases with her age. With increasing age, it not only becomes more difficult for a woman to get pregnant but to stay pregnant as outlined below:

* In women ages 15 to 35, the incidence of miscarriage is between 10% and 12% * In women ages 35 to 39, the incidence of miscarriage is 18% * In women ages 40 to 44, the incidence of miscarriage is 33% * In women ages 45-plus, the incidence of miscarriage is greater than 50%

Most miscarriages are the result of a random genetic abnormality. It is generally accepted that the earlier the loss, the greater the likelihood that the pregnancy was genetically abnormal in some way ...

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