I’m struggling with the loss. What can I do?
If you are struggling to come to terms with what’s happened, it’s important to know that your feelings are valid. The pregnancy may have been very early, or you may have seen your baby on an ultrasound scan. Perhaps the pregnancy came after years of fertility problems, fertility treatments or maybe it was a pleasant surprise.
No matter the circumstances, you and your partner have both experienced a significant loss. You may have lots of feelings about what has happened, such as:
It may even be that you are struggling to cope with your feelings more so than your partner. People may assume that this doesn’t happen (especially if you are a male partner), but it does.
Was it my fault?
Some partners feel a sense of failure because of what happened. That perhaps there is something wrong with their ability to father a child or that they didn’t do enough to protect their partner.
It is important to know that miscarriages very rarely happen because of something you or your partner did or didn’t do. The most common cause of early miscarriages (the most common type of miscarriage) is chromosomal abnormalities in the baby, and these happen by chance. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.
Your partner may also be blaming herself for what happened. You may need to reassure her that it wasn’t her fault either.
Many partners feel helpless after a miscarriage, whether they personally feel the loss or not. Seeing your partner in pain can be very distressing. It’s understandable to want to do something and ‘fix the problem’. Unfortunately, miscarriage isn’t something you can stop or control. There isn’t anything you can do other than be there for your partner.
Being the protector
Some partners try to be the protector, supporting their partner who has miscarried. If this is you, you may find yourself focusing on the daily practicalities of life such as looking after other children, shopping or work, to try and make things easier for your partner. This may work if you’re not feeling overwhelmed by what has happened. But it’s important to give yourself time to grieve too, if you need to.
You may be concerned that telling your partner how you feel will make her anxiety worse. But perhaps she senses that you’re struggling and wants you to honest about your feelings. It’s important to try and keep communicating with each other. This can help you understand how the other is feeling and come to terms with your loss.
“My wife and I lost our second baby when she was 10 weeks pregnant. I felt my entire world was ending. How was I going to pull my wife and I through this? Why has this happened? Was it me? Is there something wrong with me?
Some friends and family just couldn’t understand what I needed. They would say things like ‘there will always be another one’ and ‘you can always keep trying’. These phrases are the worst phrases you can hear if you have ever been through this. But I have found that talking to people about it has helped me to get through this tough time. Most people I have spoken to about this have experienced a similar sort of loss and it’s nice to talk to someone who understands.
A lot of the time men are seen as ‘the man of the house’ and as such they should be strong and not show emotion. But being a dad or a husband is about being there when times are horrendous and it’s okay to be upset, angry and sad. Things will get better.”
Remembering your baby after a miscarriage
The grieving process can be very difficult and finding a way to commemorate your loss may help. Some couples feel like they are somehow not entitled to do anything, particularly if they had an early miscarriage. But you have the right to remember your baby in whatever way you want.
But don’t feel like you have to mark your loss if you don’t want to. There is no right or wrong way to feel after a miscarriage. Find out more about remembering your baby after a miscarriage.
Your emotional health
Partners, friends and family can be a vital source of support after a miscarriage. But if you don’t have a support network or if you want to talk to someone confidentially (in private), there is help available.
Some people develop depression after a traumatic event, such as losing a baby. If you’re grieving, depression can be hard to recognise. People who are grieving find their feelings of sadness and loss come and go, but they're still able to enjoy things and look forward to the future. But people who are depressed constantly feel sad. They find it difficult to enjoy anything or be positive about the future.
The symptoms of depression can last for weeks or months and can interfere with your work, social life and family life. Symptoms of depression can include:
- continuous low mood or sadness
- feeling hopeless and helpless
- feeling anxious or worried
- disturbed sleep
- avoiding contact with friends
- having difficulties in your home, work or family life.
If you’re worried that you are struggling to cope after losing a baby, please talk to your GP. They will be able to help you get more treatment or counselling locally. You can find out more about depression on the NHS website.
You can also talk to a Tommy’s midwife free of charge from 9am–5pm, Monday to Friday on 0800 0147 800 or you can email them at midw[email protected]. Our midwives are trained in bereavement support.
There are also lots of organisations that can provide more advice and support about miscarriage. Find out more about getting support after a miscarriage.
Other people’s reactions
Most people will be supportive or try to say something comforting when someone has a miscarriage. But sometimes people unintentionally say the wrong thing. For example, you may find that people ask how your partner is feeling, but don’t ask about how you’re feeling. Or they may assume that you aren’t as upset.
If you feel able to, you could try to explain that this upsets you and talk about how you feel. If not, there are people out there who will understand.
Tommy's runs a support group for those who have suffered miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, neonatal death or termination for medical reasons.
We also run a pregnancy and parenting after loss support group on our Facebook page.
I don’t feel as upset as my partner. Is that wrong?
There is no right or wrong way to feel after miscarriage. Perhaps the pregnancy was in the early stages and didn’t really feel real to you yet. Perhaps you’re feeling disappointed rather than overwhelmingly sad, and you’re finding it easier to move on. These are all normal feelings to have.
How can I support my partner?
If your partner is in pain, it’s important to try to be sensitive to her needs and support her where you can. You could try the following.
- Encourage her to rest when she can and eat well.
- Listen to how she feels, try to understand and let her grieve the way she wants to.
- Take on more of your share of household responsibilities, such as the shopping, cooking or cleaning.
- Your partner may have follow-up appointments with healthcare professionals or tests to try and find out what caused the miscarriage. If you can, it may help to go with her for support.
Some women develop mental health problems because of their grief. Depression and anxiety are common, but some women may develop other issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or perinatal obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). You may be able to recognise the symptoms of these conditions better than your partner. If you are concerned, encourage her to see her GP. Perhaps you could go with her.
Be aware that your partner will also experience some physical changes. Many women find it extremely upsetting as their pregnancy hormones fall and later when they start having periods again. It’s important to be sensitive to this.
Your relationship with your partner
Some couples find that going through a miscarriage brings them closer together. Others may find it more difficult. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t a strong couple or committed to each other, it just means that you respond to grief in your own ways.
Grief can put a strain on the best of relationships, and it may help to get some professional support. Find out about your relationship with your partner.
Trying to get pregnant again
It may also take a while for your sex life to get back to normal and it’s impossible to say when either of you will be ready. Sex also raises the question of when, and if, you want to try to get pregnant again.
If you do want to try again, it is best to ask your doctor if there are any medical reasons why you should wait for a while. For example, if your partner had a molar pregnancy or ectopic pregnancy, it’s best to wait until after the treatment.
If you are a lesbian, bisexual or transgender partner, you and your partner may have taken a long time to decide things like which of you should have the baby and how to get pregnant. If so, the idea of going through this again may feel very daunting. The NHS website has more information about your options.
It is up to you when you want to start trying again. It is an individual choice and one you need to make as a couple. Talk to your GP or the medical team that cared for your partner during her miscarriage.
Where to get more support
The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) provides information for people who are thinking about counselling. Their website also has a directory of qualified therapists.
Relate can offer you space for you to talk about your worries together (or as an individual) in a safe and confidential place with a trained counsellor.