Journalling and positive reappraisal in pregnancy after miscarriage
Research has shown that journalling and positive reappraisal may help some people cope with uncertainty and anxiety. This page explains more and gives you some ideas for getting started.
Positive reappraisal in pregnancy after miscarriage*
You might feel that there is nothing worse than being told to ‘think positive’. But positive reappraisal is different to positive thinking. Some research has shown that regularly repeating and carefully thinking about certain positive statements in a particular way can help you deal with the ongoing uncertainty and anxiety of pregnancy after a miscarriage. You can read a summary of this research here.
It does not mean pretending everything is wonderful, or ignoring difficult aspects of a situation, but trying to take account of positive aspects alongside the negative. It has been shown to be especially useful to help people cope with uncertain situations that they cannot control but that are really important to them.
Researchers are still investigating the benefits of positive reappraisal and how it can be used to help people who are pregnant after loss.
Our suggestions of topics to journal about (below) can help you start thinking in this way too.
It didn’t reduce my anxiety but it definitely helped me cope with the anxious feelings and made me think more positively. There were highs and lows but more highs that I would have had without the technique. I truly believe it helped me.
* Please note that we often use the term ‘pregnancy loss’ to include miscarriage, ectopic and molar pregnancy. But sometimes, using the word ‘miscarriage’ for all three makes it easier for people to find the information they’re looking for when using a search engine.
Journalling in pregnancy after miscarriage
Journalling is keeping a log of thoughts and feelings about things happening in your life. It is a way of expressing yourself without worrying about the response or judgment of others.
How journalling can help with uncertainty and anxiety
- The process of transferring fears out of your head and onto a page can sometimes help you start to let go of things you can’t control. Writing down difficult emotions can help you recognise and accept them.
- Journalling can help you focus on what is going on right now rather than letting your mind focus on an uncertain future.
- A journal can be a good place to record, remember and return to affirmations, quotes or ways of thinking that you find helpful.
- Research shows that being thankful and showing gratitude can help you to be happier and reduce anxiety and depression. Anxiety about your pregnancy can take over your life. Keeping a journal may also help you find things you are grateful for, even if they are only small.
- A journal is a private space you can use any time you need it.
- Regularly logging your thoughts and feelings can help you record the passing of time and the achievement of important milestones through your pregnancy.
- Some women find it helpful to have a record of their pregnancy if the worst happens and they lose their baby again.
- Recording your moods can help you identify what helps you feel better as well as what triggers a difficult time. You could use words, a scale or different emoticons, symbols or pictures.
Getting started with journalling and positive affirmations
You can use anything to start a journal. Some people find a nice notebook helps, others prefer loose paper or an online notes tool.
You can write lists, letters, notes, poems or full sentences. Anything goes.
You don’t have to just write in a journal. Images, word clouds, patterns and photos can all help you log your thoughts and feelings. You can include your own words and other people’s. Make a note or cut and stick quotes, affirmations and poems you find helpful. If you don’t know any, consider looking or asking in our Facebook groups for things that have helped others. Some of these might speak to you too.
You could get started by writing snippets of thoughts and feelings on post-it notes and sticking them to the page. This can help you get muddled ideas out of your head.
It is your personal space; it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Questions to help you
Choose the questions that feel right for you.
- List 5 words to describe how you feel right now.
- List 5 words to describe how you feel about this journal.
- What are you grateful for today?
- Write a letter to someone to help them understand how you feel. You don’t have to send it if you don’t want to.
- Write a letter to the baby you are pregnant with or the baby or babies you lost.
- Write a letter to your past or future self.
- What makes you strong?
- What are you proud of about yourself?
- What is positive about your life today, right now?
- What scares you?
- How do you want to remember the baby or babies you lost?
- What has helped you cope over the last week?
- What have you found difficult?
- What is in your control today?
- What is out of your control today?
 Bailey S, Boivin J, Cheong Y, Bailey C, Kitson-Reynolds E, Macklon N. Effective support following recurrent pregnancy loss: a randomized controlled feasibility and acceptability study. Reprod Biomed Online. 2020 May;40(5):729-742. doi: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2020.01.022. Epub 2020 Feb 5. PMID: 32444166.
 O’Connell, B. H., Gallagher, S., & O’Shea, D. (2017). Feeling Thanks and Saying Thanks: A Randomized Controlled Trial Examining If and How Socially Oriented Gratitude Journals Work. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 73(10), 1280–1300.
Ducasse, D., Dassa, D., Courtet, P. et al. (2019). Gratitude Diary for the Management of Suicidal Inpatients: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Depression and Anxiety, 36 (5), 400–411.