Supporting dads and partners through miscarriage
Losing your baby at any stage of pregnancy is extremely difficult. If your partner was less than 24 weeks pregnant, this loss is called a miscarriage. Sadly, miscarriage affects a lot of parents.1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, most commonly in the first 3 months of pregnancy. If your partner had a late miscarriage, between 13 and 24 weeks of pregnancy, you may also want to read our information about stillbirth.
We’re here to support you and answer your questions about miscarriage.
Causes of miscarriage
Most miscarriages happen because there’s a problem with the baby’s development. This happens by chance and there’s often no clear reason for it. Sometimes people can find this hard to accept and may worry that they did something to cause the miscarriage. But miscarriages rarely happen because of something you or your partner did or didn’t do.
We have answered some common questions that parents ask about what causes miscarriage.
What happens during a miscarriage?
Some partners have said they would have found it helpful to know what their partner may experience physically during a miscarriage. Understanding what might happen to your partner when they miscarry can help you find ways to support them.
They may have some vaginal bleeding or discharge during and after the miscarriage. They may also have some cramps (like strong period pains) in their lower stomach. Paracetamol should help with these cramps. Occasionally there are no symptoms and the miscarriage is picked up during an ultrasound scan.
Contact the GP, midwife or Early Pregnancy Unit if you or your partner are worried about any bleeding or pain. Or you can call the NHS non-emergency number on 111. If your partner has very heavy bleeding, severe pain or feels very unwell, they should go to the nearest accident and emergency department (A&E).
We have more information about the physical changes during and after a miscarriage.
Coping after a miscarriage
There’s no right or wrong way to feel after a miscarriage.
Perhaps the pregnancy was in the early stages and didn’t feel real yet. Maybe you feel sad about losing the chance to get to know your baby and be a parent. If the pregnancy wasn’t planned, you might even feel relieved. If you had bonded with your baby, you may be grieving for them. Some partners feel helpless because they weren’t able to protect their baby. However you feel, it's ok.
After a miscarriage, the focus is often on the mum or birthing parent, and you may feel overlooked. Some partners feel they need to be strong and keep their emotions to themselves. Remember that both of you have experienced a significant loss and you may need support too.
I found it incredibly difficult to stay strong for my wife while also feeling very sad about our losses. What really helped me was talking to my wife about it and allowing us the space to grieve and be sad together, instead of repressing my feelings because it might seem like a weakness.
Remember that you can speak to your midwife or doctor if you have any questions about the miscarriage or if there’s anything you don’t understand.
Read more about coping with your feelings as a partner after a miscarriage.
Getting support after a miscarriage
Speak to your GP if you’re struggling to cope or feel you need some support. They can put you in touch with local support services. Some maternity units have bereavement midwives, or there may be a local charity who can offer support.
You can also talk to a Tommy’s midwife free of charge from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday on 0800 0147 800 or email [email protected] Our midwives are trained in bereavement support.
Some dads and partners have told us that talking to other parents who have been through a miscarriage can also help.
We were surprised to find out how many people close to us had had miscarriages, but we never knew. There’s still a mindset of not talking about it. It wasn’t easy for us at first but in the long-run it really helped us to talk about it.
You may find it helpful to read other parent’s stories or share experiences of miscarriage in an online community:
- Our blog describes how miscarriage can affect men
- IVF Dad talks about miscarriage in chapter 9 of his podcast
- The Miscarriage Association has stories from partners about their experiences of miscarriage
- Miscarriage for Men has an online forum, blogs and videos.
Supporting your partner
You and your partner may react to the miscarriage in different ways. Being open and honest about your feelings can help you understand and support each other.
Find out more about supporting your partner after baby loss.
Having more than one miscarriage
Having a miscarriage can be a very upsetting experience. If you and your partner have more miscarriages, it can feel overwhelming.
About 1 in 100 couples trying to conceive have 3 or more miscarriages in a row. You may hear health professionals describe this as recurrent miscarriage.
If this happens, you and your partner may be offered an appointment at a specialist unit. Your partner (and sometimes you too) may have tests to find out if there’s a known cause for the miscarriages. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to find out why they happened.
If there’s no obvious cause for the miscarriages, there’s a good chance that you and your partner will go on to have a successful pregnancy.
Read more about possible causes of recurrent miscarriage.
More support and information
- LGBT Mummies has a miscarriage and baby loss support group.
- The Miscarriage Association has information and support for partners. They have a helpline and online support, including an online forum page for partners.
- Miscarriage for Men is a support network of men who have experienced miscarriage.
- Due C, Chiarolli S, Riggs DW (2017) The impact of pregnancy loss on men's health and wellbeing: a systematic review. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 2017; 17(1): 380.
- NHS. Miscarriage: symptoms. www.nhs.uk/conditions/miscarriage/symptoms/ (Page last reviewed: 9 March 2022. Next review due: 9 March 2025)
- NICE (2020) Miscarriage. NICE Clinical Knowledge Summary. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/miscarriage/
- Obst KL et al. (2020) Men's grief following pregnancy loss and neonatal loss: a systematic review and emerging theoretical model. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2020; 20(1): 11.
- RCOG (2016). Early miscarriage patient information leaflet. Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists www.rcog.org.uk/for-the-public/browse-all-patient-information-leaflets/early-miscarriage-patient-information-leaflet/
- RCOG (2011). Recurrent Miscarriage, Investigation and Treatment of Couples (Green-top Guideline No. 17). Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/gtg17/
- Williams HM et al (2020). Men and Miscarriage: A Systematic Review and Thematic Synthesis. Qual Health Res. 2020; 30(1): 133-145.