A qualitative investigation of the psychological experiences of recurrent miscarriage among women

Heather Cunha Amato, Fordham University


The present qualitative study was an exploration of women's experiences of recurrent miscarriage (RM). The purpose of the study was to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the range of psychological and emotional effects, the behavioral changes and coping mechanisms, and both supportive and unsupportive factors that, respectively, helped and hindered recovery following miscarriage(s). Semistructured interviews were conducted with 13 women who had suffered three or more consecutive miscarriages with no living children and who were not currently pregnant. Open, axial, and selective themes emerged from the data analysis, yielding a total of 74 open categories, 34 axial categories, and 14 selective categories. From these emergent categories, researchers identified two sub-theories that comprised one overall grounded theory regarding women's experiences of RM. The central grounded theory that emerged is that women who experience recurrent miscarriage feel both left alone in their suffering and tend to isolate as a means of protecting themselves from confronting their sadness, anxiety, jealousy, anger, and guilt as well as to avoid the insensitive and minimizing comments by medical professionals, family, friends, and acquaintances. The complex range of intense emotions, such as feelings of failure, self-blame, anger, shame, and disappointment, all affect personal identity and self-esteem, primary relationships, and attitudes towards future pregnancies. The developmental grounded theory that emerged is that as women experience increasing numbers of miscarriages they are, essentially, retraumatized by not only the physical and emotional pain of the initial loss, but by the cumulative and consecutive nature of these traumas, which results in heightened emotions of anger and frustration, that, eventually, turns into despair and hopelessness as they face the possibility of not having a biological child. This devastating grief can, at times, he relieved with the identification of an alternate means towards becoming a mother and/or the development of a new perspective of their purpose in life outside of being a mother. Suggestions for future research, along with clinical implications and recommendations for medical and mental health professionals are discussed.

Subject Area

Obstetrics and gynecology|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Amato, Heather Cunha, "A qualitative investigation of the psychological experiences of recurrent miscarriage among women" (2008). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3303093.