The effect a miscarriage can have on the family

A miscarriage can have an emotional impact on everyone in the family.

Mothers and birthing parents

Losing a baby can be heartbreaking. There is no right or wrong way to feel about having a miscarriage. No-one can tell you how you should or shouldn’t be feeling.

Common feelings can often include:

  • grief
  • shock
  • feelings of failure
  • guilt
  • emptiness
  • loss of control
  • fear
  • jealousy of other mothers
  • confusion.

There is no easy way to grieve after a miscarriage. But there are some practical things you can do that may help. It’s also important to try and get some professional support if you are struggling to move forward after pregnancy loss.

Find out more about your feelings and emotions after miscarriage.

“Most people think of the mother who carried the baby, because she has experienced the loss physically. This was very much the case in my experience. After my first miscarriage I wanted to be on my own and felt angry that my partner was showing nothing but what seemed like relief. But I learned that carrying on as if it hadn’t happened was just his way of dealing with the situation.”

Dads and partners

Dads and partners are sometimes overlooked, often because the mother is the parent who physically lost the baby. However, they may feel the loss just as much as the mother.

Some dads and partners try to be the protector, supporting their partner who has miscarried. They may also focus on the daily practicalities of life such as looking after other children, shopping or work, to try and make things easier for their partner.

It’s important that both parents give themselves time to grieve.

“My husband struggled to express his emotions. He tried to keep everything together and focussed on looking after me. He bottled everything up for a long time.”

The effect on you as a couple

Losing a baby can affect your relationship as a couple. You and your partner have both experienced a miscarriage, but you may react to it very differently. Some couples find that how they feel after a miscarriage brings them closer together. Others may find it more difficult.

Even though you have lost a baby together, you may have very different feelings and ways of coping. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t a strong couple or committed to each other, it just means that you respond to grief and disappointment in your own ways.

It is usually the partner who goes back to work first, which can be difficult for both of you. You may feel abandoned or that your partner has somehow ‘moved on’. They may feel they cannot cope yet with the extra stress of work but have to go back. They may also resent you for having more time to carry on grieving.

This can all lead to misunderstandings and arguments during what is already a stressful time. But there are some things you can do as a couple that may help. For example, counselling may help.

Find out more about your relationship after a miscarriage.

The effect on any other children you have

The loss of a baby can affect everyone, including any children you already have.

“I was worried about constantly crying in front of my daughter. I was afraid for her to see me sad.”

What you tell your children depends on their age but also on past experiences of death and any religious beliefs. Try to tell your child what’s happened as simply as you can. If they want more details, they will ask.

Children will often think things through and ask questions many weeks later, often in seemingly random situations, such as during dinner or in a shop. Answer them again honestly and openly. Do not be afraid to show your emotions and let them cry too.

It’s important to explain that what’s happened is nobody’s fault. Many children may blame themselves for the death of their baby brother or sister. Reassure them and explain what a wonderful brother or sister they are because they are thinking about the baby.

Children sometimes hide their sadness to protect their parents. Try to be as open and honest about the situation as you can be. Children are often much more worried when they sense something is wrong but don’t know what it is.

Every child is different and there is no magic formula to ease their grief. However, Child Bereavement UK suggests that the following can help:

  • clear, honest and age-appropriate information
  • reassurance that they are not to blame and that different feelings are okay
  • keeping to normal routines
  • a clear demonstration that important adults are there for them
  • time to talk about what has happened, ask questions and build memories
  • being listened to and given time to grieve in their own way.

The Miscarriage Association has a leaflet to help you handle a conversation with children about miscarriage.

Review dates
Reviewed: 18 December 2019
Next review: 18 December 2022

This content is currently being reviewed by our team. Updated information will be coming soon.