How Couples Fare After Miscarriage

A miscarriage can make or break a relationship, finds a study from the University of Washington. A year after miscarrying, one out of three women said they felt more distant from their partner, while another third felt their relationship had improved.

"When miscarriage affects couples it may stimulate growth, or unearth the inability to support each other through troubled times," notes author Kristen Swanson, a professor of family and child nursing.

For the study, Swanson identified 185 women who had miscarried and interviewed them four times over the course of a year. It was published in the October issue of Psychosomatic Medicine.

The remaining third of the women in the group believed their relationship had stayed the same. These women were more likely to have already had a child, or to have lost the baby early in gestation.

The women who said their relationships had changed for the worse were at greater risk for anxiety, depression, confusion and anger. Many saw their miscarriage as a devastating and isolating event. They felt unable to share the loss, and claimed that their partner did not show empathy.

The couples that communicated well about the loss improved their relationship and felt better about themselves. They were more likely to say the troubled times had brought them closer together, both interpersonally and sexually.

Swanson notes many couples struggle with this difficult issue, since one-sixth of pregnancies end in miscarriage.

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