Post-traumatic stress experienced by partners after miscarriage, study reveals

12 October 2020

Post-traumatic stress experienced by partners after miscarriage, study reveals
A new study funded by Imperial Health Charity suggests that as many as one in 12 partners experience post-traumatic stress after a miscarriage.

More than 100 couples who had lost their baby in the early stages of their pregnancy were surveyed for the study, which was led by Imperial College London.

Researchers found that one month after the pregnancy loss, one in 14 partners experienced post-traumatic stress, rising to one in 12 after three months.

The study was funded through our Research Fellowships programme, with support from the Imperial NIHR Biomedical Research Centre.

Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr Jessica Farren, who led the research, said: “This study demonstrates there is a sizeable proportion of partners who experience severe psychological symptoms after pregnancy loss.

“Post-traumatic stress can have a toxic effect on all elements of a person’s life – affecting work, home and relationships. Hopefully an awareness of the results of this study will help couples navigate their different responses to these losses and show each other the understanding that is needed to navigate a tricky period in their relationship.”

Sadly, one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage – most often before or around 12 weeks – and previous research by the same team found that one in five women experience long-term post-traumatic stress after early pregnancy loss. However, this is the first study to explore the effect on partners.

Couples attended early pregnancy assessment units at Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea and St Mary’s hospitals during the study, as well as a similar facility at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

Ian Lush, Chief Executive of Imperial Health Charity, said: “As the dedicated charity for five London hospitals, we’re committed to supporting pioneering research that leads to real improvements in patient care.

“This latest study shines a light on the serious psychological difficulties experienced by partners after a miscarriage and we look forward to seeing how this important research can be translated into better care for couples who face the unimaginable pain of losing a baby.”

Applications are now open for our annual Research Fellowships programme. If you’re a member of staff at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, you can apply for up to £65,000 to support a new research project. The programme offers a fantastic opportunity to develop your research skills, improve patient care and springboard into an academic career. For more information about the Research Fellowships programme, click here.

IMAGE: The Birth Centre at Queen Charlotte's & Chelsea Hospital.