We all know that the loss of a pregnancy, whether through a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy, affects all women and families differently.
And now a new study conducted by experts from Imperial College London has found that four in 10 women meet the criteria for probable post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) three months after a pregnancy loss.
The study asked 113 women, who had attended the Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea hospital in London, to fill in a questionnaire about their thoughts and feelings following the loss of their baby.
The results were then published in the journal BMJ Open.
According to the survey, of those who had experienced a miscarriage, 45 percent had PTSD symptoms while 18 percent of those who’d suffered an ectopic pregnancy had the same symptoms.
Symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, isolation and intrusive and unwanted thoughts, and affected their work and relationships.
"We were surprised at the high number of women who experienced symptoms of PTSD after early pregnancy loss,” Dr Jessica Farren, lead author of the research, said.
"At the moment there is no routine follow-up appointment for women who have suffered a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.
"We have checks in place for postnatal depression, but we don't have anything in place for the trauma and depression following pregnancy loss.
"Yet the symptoms that may be triggered can have a profound effect on all aspects of a woman's everyday life, from her work to her relationships with friends and family."
Highlighting how the norm not to reveal a pregnancy until the 12-week mark may mean a loss is “brushed under the carpet”, Dr Farren continued:
"There is an assumption in our society that you don't tell anyone you are pregnant until after 12 weeks. But this also means that if couples experience a miscarriage in this time, they don't tell people.
"This may result in the profound psychological effects of early pregnancy loss being brushed under the carpet, and not openly discussed."
The research found not all women experience PTSD symptoms, and experts now want to investigate why this is the case.