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Women's health

Coping with miscarriage & baby loss, and how to support someone experiencing it

Clinically reviewed on 23/3/2022 by Bryony Lathbury

Miscarriage and baby loss can understandably be very upsetting and traumatic, both the physical effects and the emotional impact. It can take some time to heal. And for you (and your partner) to grieve for the baby and the future you had imagined together. It’s important to remember to reach out if you need support, whether that’s to family, a friend, colleague, or a healthcare professional. There are also several charities where you can seek advice and support from people, often with a shared experience (see below for details). 

 

Miscarriage is defined as the loss of a pregnancy in the first 24 weeks; after this point it’s called baby loss, or stillbirth.  It’s unfortunately a lot more common than people realise. It’s estimated that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage.1 Age can be a factor, with the risk of miscarriage rising from 20% at 35 years, to 40% at 40 years and 75% 45 years plus.2

 

Going through a miscarriage can feel very lonely, as in some cases you may not have even told anyone that you were pregnant. As well as dealing with the physical impact on your body, you may be experiencing lots of different emotions fuelled by the hormonal changes still occurring. You might not realise it, but you’ll probably know women who have experienced a miscarriage but have not spoken about it. You aren’t alone, and that’s why we want to help normalise talking about miscarriage as part of women’s health. 

 

For more information on what to do if you think you’re having a miscarriage contact your midwife or GP, or visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/miscarriage

How you can support someone experiencing miscarriage or baby loss

 

It may be difficult to know what to say to someone dealing with miscarriage or to even imagine what they are going through. They may be experiencing a range of emotions and their body may still be adjusting physically to having lost a baby. It can be traumatic for their partner too. And while we know it’s never going to top your list of comfortable conversations, talking can really help - when they are ready.

 

Ways to show your support: 

 

  • Just be there for them, let them know you’re there if they want to talk. It might not seem much but it can really help to know there’s someone ready to listen, especially if they’ve been going through this alone.

  • Give them time to grieve, and to acknowledge and process their own feelings. It may be tempting to want to make them feel better by saying they can try for another baby again soon, but this is rarely comforting and may be upsetting to hear. 

  • Be conscious of events they may find triggering, like attending a friend’s baby shower, wandering through the baby aisle in a shop or sharing pregnancy scan pictures on social media. Check-in with them and give them the space and permission to avoid the triggers where possible.

 

Remember that counselling services are included with Simplyhealth Plans, so there’s a qualified professional waiting at the end of the phone to offer practical information and emotional support 24/7. 

Man about to have an online GP appointment

Related guide

A guide to women's health

Other articles around women's health, including menopause and pelvic health, written with the support of the Lady Garden Foundation.