Mental Health For Pregnancy, Fertility & Miscarriage
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Mental health for fertility difficulties, miscarriage and pregnancy

Mental Health for Miscarriage, Fertility and Pregnancy

Mental health for fertility difficulties, miscarriage and pregnancy

There is often the view that having a child is the most natural thing a woman can do. But what if that isn’t your experience? What if you aren’t sure if you really want to have children? What if you do, but your body isn’t playing ball? What if you do get pregnant but then have to experience the pain of baby loss? What if you hope for a natural birth but have a traumatic labour and delivery experience? What if you struggle with post natal depression and struggle to connect with your baby?


These are all things that can affect women, and their partners, families, friends, in all sorts of ways. It can have an emotional impact, with low mood, anxiety, irritability. You may notice thoughts about yourself and others such as “why is everyone else able to get pregnant?” or “what’s wrong with me?”. You may change the things you do, such as avoiding spending time with friends and family (especially if they’re having babies), spending long chunks of your day (and night!) googling signs, symptoms, treatment options… searching for answers to ease your pain. 


You might feel torn between wanting help from health care professionals, but not knowing where to start looking. Or feeling trapped in a system of scans, investigations and treatments that can take over “normal life”. Your body may change as a result of treatments and pregnancy. You may feel like your body isn’t your own anymore; that what you consume and how you exercise is driven by your fertility journey. Your relationships may become strained. You and your loved ones may feel differently about things. You may cope in different ways e.g. wanting to talk or shutting down. You may worry that people get bored by you talking about your experiences. Or you may feel angry and disconnected, like no one really understands what it’s like for you.


If any of this rings true for you, please know that you’re not alone. The process of having a child can be incredibly tough and bring lots of pain and suffering along the way. It’s normal to experience a range of feelings, including those that are strong or difficult to cope with. Our emotions help to remind us what is important in our lives… we usually get upset when something matters to us. Emotions are an essential part of being human but they can also often be uncomfortable and difficult to cope with.


Having some ways to approach uncomfortable feelings and to find ways to cope with them allows you to listen and respond to your needs. We all manage our feelings in different ways. Take some time to consider the following ideas and make a note of a few things that you could try. Have a practice with these to see what might work for you:



Often when we are experiencing strong emotions, we can forget about our basic needs.

FOOD AND DRINK– What we eat and drink can have a big impact on our moods. Try to drink plenty of water, cut down on caffeine (stimulant and speeds up heart rate), alcohol (a depressant) and sugary foods (gives mood highs and lows) if you can.


SLEEP– Most people do not sleep enough. Poor sleep, or lack of sleep, leaves less energy and fewer emotional and physical resources to cope with stress. For a better night of sleep:

  •       Don’t go to bed until tired
  •       Use your bedroom only for sleeping (and for sex)
  •       Avoid caffeine
  •       Don’t nap during the day
  •       Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.


EXERCISE – Daily exercise is a good way to work off anxiety. It has been proven that exercise can lift our mood. The exercise doesn’t have to be overly strenuous, going for a walk, doing the gardening, going for a swim.



BREATHING – When our emotions are heightened, our breathing tends to become faster and shallower. It is useful to practice breathing exercises when we feel calm so we can use them in an emotional emergency.

  • Stop what you are doing
  • Take a long breath out
  • Breathe in 2….3…
  • Hold 2….3
  • Breathe out 2….3
  • Repeat 3 times or until you feel more relaxed. Feel your shoulders drop as you breathe out each time.
  • Some people find it helpful to imagine the tension flowing out of their body


 GROUNDING – If you notice that you are struggling, or have a certain time of day/place/situation/person that you know makes you feel stressed, then try this grounding exercise. Grounding doesn’t make emotions go away but can help you to re-focus.


  • Stop what you are doing for a moment
  • Breathe out slowly.
  • Push your feet hard into the floor. Feel the floor beneath your feet.
  • Look around you and notice three things you can see.
  • Notice two things you can here
  • Take two small quiet breaths
  • And come back to what you are doing



Once you have noticed a feeling you might choose to act in a way which helps you to shift your focus so that you can avoid ruminating and generating more difficult feelings. This could be as simple as a book or TV.


LEISURE/SOCIALISING – Humans are social animals, having some social contact with others is important. Sometimes when we feel low in mood or anxious, we may avoid going out and this tends to lead to a vicious cycle of feeling lower in mood. Try, if you can, to have some contact with another person at least once a day, even just popping to the local shop to get some milk.


HOBBIES – Having hobbies can help to reduce our stress levels, doing something we enjoy every day. It could be; reading, music, card games…..


SELF SOOTHING – Acting in a way that helps you to feel cared for and soothed can be very powerful. This could be doing things to help you to relax – having a bath, using hand cream, or just taking time out to sit quietly.



Family and friends usually want to help. Remaining connected to those who are most important to us can help to reduce stress. Coaching them as to how to best help you can be really empowering for you and your loved ones.

There are professionals who are able to offer additional support if you are struggling with your emotions. You can ask your GP for information or there are lots of useful resources and information online;

IVF support: The NHS website has some links to useful support services for people undergoing IVF.


The Miscarriage Association has a staffed helpline, a volunteer support

network, an online support forum, a range of helpful leaflets and a useful and

informative website. Tel: 01924 200799    


Tommy’s believe that every baby lost is one too many. Tommy’s exists to support, case for and champion people, no matter where they may be on their pregnancy journey.


Pandas is a community offering peer support for people affected by perinatal mental health issues


Miscarriage ACT is a website developed by a clinical psychologist with personal experience of miscarriage. She talks about how to bring in self compassion and acceptance to help cope with miscarriage.


Sarah Whitaker, one of the Clinical Psychologists, within The Psychology Company, has a special interest in working with these issues and would be happy to have an initial phone call if you would like to consider doing some therapeutic work around what you’re struggling with.