Background: Approximately 15 percent of all verified pregnancies end in miscarriage. It is known that spontaneous abortion often cause psychological distress. The women are at risk of suffering from grief, anxiety, depression and other psychological symptoms. Psychological symptoms could persist for years after the miscarriage and there is frequently no routine to identify psychiatric morbidity among the women. Research has been conducted to identify the consequences of abortion, but the studies are mainly quantitative. The aim of this study was to analyse how miscarriage affects the women’s emotional life.
Methods: Forty women who recently had a miscarriage were included in the study. The women were interviewed after ten days, six months, two years and five years following the spontaneous abortion. The interviews were analysed using qualitative content analysis.
Results: Common themes brought up in the open interviews were the importance of having a child after the abortion, thoughts the women had about why they had a miscarriage, and their thoughts about how they were treated by the society in general and by the health care system. In general the women's psychological symptoms persisted for six months to one year after the miscarriage. The women who gave birth to a child after miscarriage pointed to this as the main reason for why they managed to leave the difficult emotions behind. The women had different thoughts about why they had a miscarriage. Those who could not identify a reason for the miscarriage experienced it as a heavier burden than others. The women who somehow blamed themselves experienced a significant sense of relief if the health care system denied that they were to blame for the miscarriage.
Conclusions: Many women had psychological symptoms that persisted for six months to one year following the miscarriage. Based on the women`s experiences, it is clear that there are room for improvement in the health care system when offering treatment. Factors that might contribute to reduce the degree of psychological distress are provision of information about miscarriage directly to the women, information about possible reasons for miscarriage and possible psychological symptoms, offering follow up treatment after the miscarriage, in addition to a higher degree of empathy from the healthcare system.