Mental Health: An Overlooked Factor in Miscarriage?

Before I start I must state that I am not a medical professional, this post is my opinion based on my personal research. However, I have emailed a miscarriage researcher on this subject and they did not dismiss my ideas, I was told that they would discuss it with colleagues.

Nor is this post intended to bring detriment to any corporation, it’s an account of my personal experience to raise awareness and encourage women to speak up. I do not mention any employers anywhere in this blog or on my social media, nor do I go by my actual name on blog social media so any connection made is purely coincidental.

For some time now I’ve believed that my mental health caused or at least contributed to my miscarriages. It wasn’t something I considered at the time. At the time I was just hoping for an answer. I wanted a doctor to say you had x genetic condition or whatever so that I could say ok thanks now I understand why it happened.

Instead I was told there was no reason and I was safe to ‘try again’. That is a horrible thing to be told because any subsequent pregnancies will simply be riddled with fear and anxiety! (More on that in another post.)

It’s worse than having no reason because part of you thinks well I just don’t want to be pregnant again because it could just happen again for no reason!

If you’ve followed me for a while you’ll know that I’m an atheist and I believe in science, logic and reason. Miscarriages aren’t ‘meant to be’. I strongly believe there is logic behind every miscarriage.

I don’t believe that in 2016 we can simply say, there’s no explanation. Which is why I’m a big supporter of Tommys because their goal is to provide explanations and reduce miscarriages.

I’m very interested in their PROMISE and PRISM trials because these studies are researching the role of progesterone in pregnancy.

Did you know that progesterone is the opposite hormone to stress? In simple terms, both cannot survive in the body. They will have a fight and one will win and if stress ‘beats up’ progesterone, that’s the pregnancy hormone so can it not destroy a pregnancy? To me that is perfect logic.

Every doctor will tell you not to try and get pregnant if you’re experiencing stress as your body needs progesterone for a healthy pregnancy and stress (cortisol) will ‘steal’ progesterone to survive. Often people will struggle to conceive if they are stressing about trying to conceive!

The way I describe it is rabbits in the road. Bear with me on this! The human body is programmed to have a fight or flight instinct so that in any given stressful situation, in a split second, you’ll make a decision whether to attack or give up.

I describe this as driving along and a rabbit jumps out in the road. You will deal with that one rabbit. You’ll either run it over because there’s an oncoming car or swerve and avoid killing the poor little thing. Your brain will make that choice in a split second and you’ll be fine. You’ll go on with your day with no impact on your mental wellbeing.

If you were driving down the road and there were constant rabbits jumping out and you will constantly trying to deal with it, eventually somethings gotta give! Stress will win and you’ll just pull over and cry.

This is basically what happened to me. I’m not suggesting that one stressful day will cause a miscarriage but if you are undergoing continuous stress thrown at you or any form of mental health issue, depression, anxiety, personality disorders. Eventually your body is going to say, I haven’t got the chemistry to deal with this pregnancy. You are not fit to be pregnant. Deal with these problems and try again later and simply… Shut down the pregnancy.

That makes logical scientific sense. Take the emotion away and it makes perfect sense that the chemistry in your body decides that it’s not equipped to deal with it.

A chemical pregnancy is where your body ‘self- aborts’ these are really common and hundreds of women have them without realising. To put it bluntly, you get pregnant, the DNA mix is crap and your body goes nah this is not a viable baby and spits it out. And you’ll have a heavy period around the time of your period which is why they often go unnoticed. So why can’t that happen later on?

You need the correct chemistry to keep a pregnancy healthy and if it’s not there then what?

The research into progesterone looks at giving supplements to women in attempt to keep a pregnancy healthy. Although this is a good starting point I think we need to look at WHY progesterone drops in the first place as the levels must have been satisfactory to get pregnant in the first place. I think we also need to look at base levels.

So for arguments sake let’s say progesterone is measured out of 10 and you need at least level 6 to maintain a healthy pregnancy. If at my 12 week scan my level was 5, surely giving me supplements could maintain the pregnancy? If it’s 6 and then at my next appointment it’s 3 but in the meantime your boss tried to sack you then we’d begin to see reason. We could say, I’m suffering from work related stress. Be given supplements to boost the level and save the pregnancy?

If we just give supplements to a sample of people we don’t know how effective it actually is. We can say 65% had healthy babies but they could’ve been level 7 anyway and we’ve just boosted them to 9!

We need to see what causes a drop in progesterone and what our base levels are and I strongly believe we’d see some advances in miscarriage research and reason.

We need to speak up! What if there is a simple correlation that could provide a breakthrough in miscarriage? It could be as simple as more miscarriages occur in women that work full time because they encounter work related stress.  Or looking at the correlation between history of mental health and miscarriage.  Especially in recurrent miscarriages because once you’ve had one, every subsequent pregnancy is more likely to be stressful and have anxiety or even pre-natal depression.

The barrier to this research is that a lot of people do fake mental illness.  A lot of people use ‘stress’ to skive off work so it would be important to actually monitor the body’s chemistry rather than using personal accounts as evidence.  I might not have experienced any stress chemically, but my timeline of events does back my theory!

We need to research to get answers! I love these posters around Birmingham, they are medical heroes if they find answers.

12247-heroes-maternal-website-banner

I had intended to give more insight into why I believe this but it’s a bit long so I’ll save it for another day!

And just a little reminder that me and Ollie are fundraising for Tommy’s – check it out here!