Can You Have a Miscarriage from Stress?

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Social media can be a helpful place to connect with other people on the fertility journey. 

But when every other post starts with “trigger warning (TW): miscarriage,” it can begin to psych you out. There’s a reason for all of these TWs though –  about 1 in 4 pregnancies results in a miscarriage. 

Does worrying about having a miscarriage stress you out? You’re not the only one! Here’s what one supportive partner had to say:

“I’ve been trying to get my pregnant fiancé to stop reading those parts (miscarriage posts) of Facebook because they’re just not healthy spaces for a pregnant woman and they make her so worried.”

With all of this worrying, you may be wondering: Can stress cause a miscarriage?

There’s a ton of conflicting information out there, so we went through tons of research to find you the answer.

The short answer is no, there is no direct evidence that stress causes a miscarriage. 

However, some evidence suggests stress can lead to other problems linked to miscarriages. Keep reading to discover everything we know about stress and miscarriages so you can get back to your busy life.

What Is a Miscarriage?

miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks. It can happen to anyone, and it happens more often than you may realize. 

As if the pressure to get pregnant wasn’t enough, carrying a baby to term is a heavy burden to bear. Sometimes the anxiety of having a miscarriage creates more stress than the pregnancy itself. 

It’s important to know most miscarriages are caused due to chromosomal abnormalities. Most of the time, there’s nothing you can do to prevent it. 

Before we discuss the connection between stress and miscarriage, let’s discuss what stress is and how it shows up in your body.

 Before we discuss the connection between stress and miscarriage, let’s discuss what stress is and how it shows up in your body.

What Is Stress?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines stress as “any type of change that causes physical, emotional or psychological strain.” 

It’s your body’s response to something that needs attention or action. Everyone experiences stress, but the way you respond to stress is what affects your well-being. 

The two main types of stressors that cause a response in your body are physical and mental. Think about the last time you jammed your finger in a door. Ouch! That’s a physical stressor. 

Mental stressors cause similar responses in your body. If you work in a high-pressure environment you may experience a lot of mental or emotional stress. 

So how does stress show up in your body? When you’re stressed, your body responds by releasing stress hormones and working harder to pump blood. 

Going into fight-or-flight mode isn’t always a bad thing — it’s your body’s way of protecting you from a potentially harmful situation. 

The problem with stress is what happens when you spend too much time in fight-or-flight mode. A prolonged response to stress may be harmful to pregnant women. Here’s how to protect yourself and your baby from prolonged stress. 

How Can Stress Affect Your Growing Baby?

Everyday stress isn’t enough to harm a baby. However, people with prolonged exposure to mental stressors have a higher risk of miscarriages.

For pregnant women, stress can cause high blood pressure, increased cortisol, and high blood sugar. In severe cases, it can lead to problems like:

  • Preterm birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Miscarriage

Stress Response and Early Pregnancy Loss

Although emotional stress isn’t directly linked to miscarriages, it can lead to conditions that may be harmful to your baby. 


  • High blood pressure

Having high blood pressure from stress during pregnancy can make it harder for your baby to get oxygen and nutrients. This can cause the baby to be born early or have a low birth weight. 


High blood pressure can also cause placental abruption. This is when the placenta separates from the uterine wall before birth. Without the placenta, the baby loses its oxygen and nutrient supply. Severe cases of placental abruption can result in a miscarriage. 


  • High blood sugar

Stress causes high blood sugar. In pregnancy, this can lead to dangerously high blood sugar levels that could harm the baby. High blood sugar levels increase the chances of premature birth, increased weight, or even breathing problems in your baby. In some cases, the baby may have low blood sugar levels right after birth. 

Hormonal Implications from Stress

Researchers hypothesize hormones may be the link that connects stress to miscarriage. For example, stress causes cortisol release. Cortisol affects the placenta and impacts how other hormones behave. Both progesterone and prolactin may be suppressed by stress.


Progesteroneis an essential hormone for sustaining a pregnancy. It thickens the uterine lining to create a healthy womb for the growing fetus. If progesterone levels are too low, it can lead to a miscarriage.


Prolactin, the pregnancy hormone responsible for milk production, enhances the secretion of dopamine. Dopamine is a hormone that allows you to feel pleasure and satisfaction.

How Do You React to Stress and Its Effects on Pregnancy?

You’re not alone if you’re feeling stressed — a reported 55% of Americans feel stressed every day. In a chaotic post-pandemic world, there’s so much you can’t change. Having coping mechanisms to respond to stress can protect you and your baby.

How to Manage Stress When You’re Pregnant?

If you struggled to get pregnant, you probably received plenty of unsolicited advice like, “just relax!” Helpful, right? 

Instead of telling you to “chill out” to avoid miscarriage, we want to prepare you with the right ways to cope with stress during pregnancy.

Here are some ways to manage stress when you’re pregnant: 

  • Surround yourself with a supportive network. In this study, women with a strong support system had fewer miscarriages. The study followed a group of pregnant women with a history of recurrent miscarriages.
    Of the women who received emotional support throughout their pregnancy, 86% had live births.
    In the group without emotional support, 33% had live births. So while you are pregnant, have your village by your side rooting for you always.
  • Change your environment. If the stress of your job or living situation is affecting the health of your baby, it may be time to change it up. Consider working from home instead of commuting to reduce your stress levels.
  • Leave an abusive relationship. Pregnant women in emotionally abusive relationships are at a higher risk of having a miscarriage. Talk to a professional about ways to safely separate from an abusive relationship.
  • Practice mindfulness. Having a mindfulness practice trains your brain to cope with stress. Try a guided meditation to learn ways to manage your response in stressful situations.
    Want to see the results of practicing mindfulness? Check your HRV (heart rate variability) with a smartwatch or talk to your doctor about having your cortisol levels checked.

You’ll face stress throughout your pregnancy. If a negative life event happens, know that it’s not your fault. It’s also not your fault if you have a miscarriage. 

Other Causes of Miscarriage

The commonest cause of a miscarriage is chromosomal abnormalities. At the beginning of pregnancy, the developing fetus takes on genetic traits from you and your partner. If chromosomes don’t match up correctly, your body knows the baby will not survive outside of the womb. Instead of carrying it to term, the body ends the pregnancy.  

Aside from chromosomal problems, these are some other possible reasons for miscarriages.

Chronic illness

If you live with a chronic illness like Lupus, Diabetes, thyroid disease, or kidney disease, you may have a higher chance of miscarriage. Talk to your doctor about planning to get pregnant if you have a chronic illness. 

Lifestyle Risk Factors

Drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes increase your chances of having a miscarriage. Being obese is a risk factor too. To reduce your risk of miscarriage, make some lifestyle changes before trying to get pregnant. Consider adding light exercise and quitting smoking and drinking when you’re ready for a baby.

Low Progesterone

Your body needs the right progesterone levels to sustain a pregnancy. Progesterone creates a healthy womb for the growing baby in early pregnancy. 

Learn More : How Progesterone Helps To Prevent Miscarriage

When to Consult a Doctor

As you navigate pregnancy, remember you’re not meant to do it alone. Surround yourself with a solid support system — and professional help if you need it. Speak to a licensed therapist if you’re concerned that depression or anxiety could be impacting your pregnancy. 

If you think you’re having a miscarriage, call your doctor right away. The signs of a miscarriage are:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Lower back pain
  • Severe low belly pain
  • Tissue or fluid coming out of the vagina


  • 50% of miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities.
  • Everyday stress isn’t enough to cause a miscarriage.
  • Stress causes an increase in cortisol levels. This can suppress progesterone and prolactin production, which are both necessary for a healthy pregnancy.
  • High blood pressure and blood sugar from stress can be harmful to the baby. In severe cases, high blood pressure can lead to placental abruption.
  • Know your risk factors for miscarriage, like having a chronic illness or lifestyle factors.
  • Coping mechanisms can manage stress and protect your baby.

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