The Psychological Trauma of Miscarriage
Welcome to the very first episode of The Miscarriage Series where we will spend the coming weeks bringing you real stories and expert interviews about the difficult topic of miscarriage. This week’s episode is with Dr Jessica Farren who Kate and I met in London, in her kitchen before we went into lockdown.
Jessica is an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Imperial College Health Care Trust and we spoke about her involvement in research which was published earlier this year. Jessica looked at the psychological impact of early pregnancy events and in particular miscarriage.
The Trauma of Miscarriage
The study looked at symptoms relating to anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and how high these levels are shortly after experiencing a miscarriage and then months later. The study found that at 9 months 1:6 women are still experiencing symptoms suggestive of PTSD.
How to improve support
Frequently women are discharged from hospital very quickly following a miscarriage and often without a follow-up. Jessica suggests that this poses a lost opportunity for support and the ability to ask questions after a miscarriage which can help to reduce self-blame.
Jessica talks about the importance of healthcare staff managing expectations at the first scan, particularly if the scan does not have a positive outcome.
How can we talk more freely about miscarriage?
Jessica talks about the concept of not talking about a pregnancy until after the 12-week point and how it would be much better if women did feel that they can open up and talk before this time, and in particular if they miscarry.
Miscarriage and the Workplace
As miscarriage occurs in a woman’s life span during their peak contribution to society both at work and in the workplace, the impact of PTSD in both environments is huge. The work we are doing as part of our Fertility Matters at Work initiative will be providing support and guidance for anyone dealing with this.
The first Scan
Jessica tells us that it is very common to have an inconclusive scan at 5-6 weeks but by 8 weeks you would expect to see a pregnancy developing normally. She also mentions that for IVF pregnancies it would be preferable to be able to be more conclusive with scans for this group.
Why it’s not possible to investigate a miscarriage until after 3
70% of miscarriages are genetically abnormal and therefore investigating for this after one or even two miscarriages doesn’t change how anything would be managed going forward. Jessica does think there is a move to investigate after two miscarriages in the future.
The impact of miscarriage on men
The research also considered men and this will be published soon. Jessica did say that whilst men had lower levels of the psychological disorders assessed, they did still suffer.
Source: The Fertility Podcast