Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Family Relations 60 (July 2011), pp 342–355.

doi 10.1111/j.1741-3729.2011.00647.x


Copyright © 2011 by the National Council on Family Relations; published by John Wiley. Used by permission.


Although pregnancy loss—especially miscarriage— is a relatively common experience among reproductive-aged women, much of our understanding about the experience has come from small clinic-based or other nonrepresentative samples. We compared fertility-specific distress among a national sample of 1,284 women who have ever experienced a stillbirth or miscarriage. We found that commitment/attachment to pregnancy that ended in loss as well as current childbearing contexts and attitudes were associated with distress following pregnancy loss. Practitioners working with women or couples who have experienced pregnancy loss should be aware of the importance of characteristics associated with higher distress, such as whether the pregnancy had been planned, recency of the loss, no subsequent live births, having a medical explanation for the loss, a history of infertility, current childbearing desires, importance of motherhood, and locus of control over fertility.