Birth of a healthy baby doesn’t erase post-miscarriage depression

By • Published: June 16th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Pregnancy is widely viewed as one of life’s most joyous times. It has its fair share of bothersome side effects, no doubt, but most women find great happiness anticipating baby’s arrival.

Here’s something you may not know: about one million American women lose a pregnancy each year. A new study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry shows the devastating effects of these losses can last much longer than previously understood.

It’s well-known that women who’ve lost a pregnancy experience anxiety, depression or both through their next pregnancy. The study authors found these conditions can last at least 33 months after the birth of a healthy baby. By then, the new child is nearly three years old. Not surprisingly, the more miscarriages or stillbirths a woman has endured, the more severe her distress is likely to be during and after her next pregnancy.

Some research suggests moms who’ve lost an unborn child have more difficulty caring for babies born after the loss than women who haven’t. Whatever the case, there’s no question women need support from family and friends after a pregnancy ends.

Here are a few tips from Mayo Clinic for coping with this kind of loss. First, realize it will take time to heal and that everyone grieves differently. Consider finding a counselor or support group, or just talk to people you know who’ve had similar experiences. Communicate openly with your partner about the loss and how you can help each other through the grief. Don’t be afraid to ask family and friends for a helping hand.

Make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep, eating nutritiously and exercising regularly. Letting your physical well-being slide will make it more difficult for you to cope. And don’t lose hope: it will take a while, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel.