Authored by: Heather Rowe , Alexandra J. Hawkey

Routledge International Handbook of Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health

Print publication date:  October  2019
Online publication date:  September  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138490260
eBook ISBN: 9781351035620
Adobe ISBN:


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Miscarriage is a common reproductive experience for women worldwide. Women’s responses to miscarriage vary widely, from perceptions of minor inconvenience to profound grief and shame. In this chapter we explore the sociocultural meanings of miscarriage, women’s experience of and treatments for miscarriage, psychological responses to miscarriage, explanatory models of miscarriage grief, the quality of health services, and women’s psychological support needs following miscarriage. Cultural meanings of miscarriage and attributions of cause influence women’s responses, their willingness to disclose, and the availability of social support. The experience of miscarriage itself may be painful and frightening. When contact with health services is necessary, women value care marked by staff sensitivity, respect, and acknowledgement of loss. Miscarriage may be experienced as a significant life crisis, the reactions to which range in severity. Personal characteristics and the context of women’s lives including quality of partner relationship influence the likelihood that psychological distress is mild and transient or more severe and prolonged. Most women adjust without professional intervention, but health services have a role to provide psychosocial support following miscarriage, including clear information about the cause of miscarriage if available. A more comprehensive understanding of how best to meet women’s health services needs is warranted.

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