Perinatal Loss: The Impact on Maternal Mental Health

Teni Davoudian, Karen Gibbins, Nicole H. Cirino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Importance Psychological reactions to perinatal loss, although often self-limited, may lead to significant psychological morbidities. Obstetrician-gynecologists and other maternal health providers play a key role in recognizing the range of psychological responses to perinatal loss and providing education, support, and treatment options to their patients. Objective This review aims to define psychological reactions associated with perinatal loss, examine psychotherapy and psychopharmacologic treatments for psychiatric morbidities, discuss interpregnancy interval following perinatal loss, and highlight brief, psychological interventions that can be implemented by maternal health providers. Evidence Acquisition Search terms "perinatal loss psychology,""reproductive loss grief,""perinatal psychopharmacology,""psychopharmacology grief,"and "interpregnancy interval"were utilized to search PubMed, Google Scholar, and PsycINFO. Results Grief is an expected, normal response to perinatal loss. Psychological morbidities, including major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder, are also associated with perinatal loss. Risk factors for these conditions include history of a psychiatric illness, childlessness, unknown cause of perinatal loss, limited social support, and marital/relationship discord. Careful interviewing and brief screening measures can help identify patients who may suffer from depressive or anxiety disorders following reproductive loss. Patients with perinatal loss can benefit from psychological and possibly pharmacologic treatments. Recommended interpregnancy interval after perinatal loss should be customized by gestational age and cause of loss. Conclusions and Relevance Patients with perinatal loss emotionally benefit from their reproductive health care providers acknowledging the psychological aspects of reproductive loss, inquiring about their emotional needs, and providing information regarding grief and mental health referrals. Target Audience Obstetricians and gynecologists, family physicians Learning Objectives After completing this activity, the learner should be better able to define the range of psychological reactions associated with perinatal loss; differentiate between grief and major depressive disorder; list psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacologic treatments effective in treating emotional sequelae of reproductive loss; and describe recommendations for interpregnancy interval after perinatal loss and identify brief, psychological interventions that can be implemented by maternal health providers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-233
Number of pages11
JournalObstetrical and Gynecological Survey
Volume76
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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