"The findings were quite surprising at how strong they were and how long they lasted," said study author Dr. Katherine Gold, an assistant professor in the departments of family medicine and obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor.
The study is published in the May issue of Pediatrics.
Miscarriage can cause grief, anger and guilt, Gold said. Those feelings may fade in time, but not nearly as quickly as friends and family may expect them to, and can crop up again on the anniversary of the due date or the loss itself.
Becker, whose miscarriage occurred three years ago, remembers feeling alone in her grief. "No one else is grieving with you," Becker said.
The impact of stillbirth can be even worse, with some women becoming depressed or suffering from symptoms of post-traumatic stress or anxiety disorders, Gold said.
Yet pregnancy loss by no means dooms a relationship. Most women are resilient, Gold said.
"Most women after miscarriage actually do quite well, and most couples do well after miscarriage," Gold said. "But there is this subset of people who may be at higher risk for their relationship breaking up."
Researchers said it was possible that having a baby could help sustain relationships, rather than a miscarriage heightening the risk of a breakup. In addition, it's possible unknown factors could contribute to both risk of miscarriage and risk of divorce, such as mental illness or other chronic physical conditions.
After a miscarriage, men and women also experience the loss differently, said Dr. David Keefe, chairman of obstetrics & gynecology at New York University Langone Medical Center.
For women, the sense of loss lasts longer. While men can certainly bond emotionally with the fetus and the idea of being a father, women have also experienced physical changes that can intensify the attachment, Keefe said.
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