Charity warns of toll baby loss takes on dads and partners

High profile mothers like Meghan Markle and Chrissy Teigen have recently spoken of their grief after baby loss – but new research from Tommy’s suggests the pain of dads and partners when pregnancy goes wrong is often overlooked, and we're launching a campaign to improve support for all parents who experience this heartbreak.

Even when pregnancies go to plan, becoming a parent can be tough and 38% of new dads worry about their mental health. Perinatal and postnatal depression can happen to both parents, and last month a study from our National Centre for Miscarriage Research revealed that 1 in 12 partners developed long-term symptoms of post-traumatic stress after the loss of their baby.

Just one per cent of over 1000 people surveyed said the needs of dads and partners were properly met; more than two-thirds (69%) felt support for dads and partners during and after pregnancy was not good or non-existent, rising to almost three-quarters (74%) for pregnancies ending in loss. Almost two-thirds (64%) said that dads and partners who experience baby loss need help to open up, in order to prevent isolation, and more than half (52%) wanted them to be given mental health advice.

The new survey highlights the complex emotions people may struggle with after losing a baby they didn’t physically carry. Almost three-quarters (73%) felt that dads and partners face pressure to ‘be the strong one’ and three-fifths (60%) said that not wanting to burden the grieving mother would mean the other parent wouldn’t know who they could lean on. More than half (58%) of dads and partners reported feeling helpless and lost – but a similar number (57%) felt protective of their other half, which may leave them bottling up these emotions and suffering in silence.

Tommy’s chief executive Jane Brewin commented: “From the moment a couple finds out they’re pregnant, they can start to imagine their baby’s future – so having those hopes and dreams taken away can have a deep and lasting impact on both parents, and they both need access to specialist support. Nobody should be left feeling powerless and vulnerable, struggling alone under the weight of their grief, not knowing how to cope or where to turn. We want to be there for everyone who experiences the heartbreak of baby loss so that no-one has to suffer in silence.”

Parents who’ve lost babies shared their stories in a video to support the launch of our campaign. Tommy’s is calling for dads and partners to be more included and supported along the pregnancy journey, to improve all parents’ mental health and wellbeing. We're currently raising funds to create an information and support hub tailored to meet the overlooked needs of dads and partners. Donations made from 1-8 December 2020 will be doubled through the Big Give campaign.