"The loss was traumatic… some healthcare providers added to that": Women's experiences of miscarriage

Women Birth. 2019 Apr;32(2):137-146. doi: 10.1016/j.wombi.2018.06.006. Epub 2018 Aug 25.


Background: Miscarriage is a common event in Australia and is estimated to occur in up to one in four confirmed pregnancies. Prior research has demonstrated that miscarriage is associated with significant distress, grief and loss, and in some cases clinically significant levels of depression, anxiety, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Despite these consequences for women's emotional and mental health, studies have commonly found that women feel that healthcare providers often lack empathy, support, and acknowledgement of their loss.

Aim: The aim of this study is to explore the psychological distress experienced by women as a result of miscarriage, as well as the perceived support provided by healthcare professionals.

Methods: Fifteen women were recruited in Australia and participated in semi-structured interviews either in person or over the telephone.

Findings: It was found that for most women, the levels of distress, grief, and loss associated with their miscarriages were significant. While women experienced both positive and negative interactions with healthcare providers throughout their miscarriage journeys, all women interviewed expressed their increased distress following negative experiences.

Conclusion: A number of recommendations have been provided by women to improve the service of healthcare providers in the event of a miscarriage, including referral to a psychologist, and ongoing follow-up after their miscarriage, which women felt would assist them with managing their distress.

Keywords: Miscarriage; distress; healthcare; recommendations; support.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Australia
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Emotions
  • Empathy
  • Female
  • Grief*
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Pregnancy