When you first find out that you’re pregnant, it’s commonplace to share the news with only a few, if at all. One generally waits until the first trimester (~12 weeks) to break the news because the chances of a miscarriage drop substantially; in fact, 80% of miscarriages occur within the first trimester. While this practice of waiting to share the news saves families and friends from “getting their hopes up” about a new baby, it can also be isolating to the families that experience loss in those first 12 weeks and consequently grieve alone.
My friend was ecstatic to share the news of her pregnancy with me as we had always envisioned raising our kids together. At the time, I was a few months ahead with my second child and I was ready to give her all the insights on pregnancy and motherhood. We strategized the fun things we’d do together on maternity leave since we’d have two months overlapped. I started a list of all the bulky, big, baby supplies I could pass down to her. I even told her the first doctor’s appointment to confirm the pregnancy was going to be magical; we talked about our pregnancies every day leading up to the date, so I knew something was wrong when she didn’t update me post appointment. She delivered the news later that evening and I had trouble finding the right words. I struggled to find a balance in frequency to ask how she was doing, each message a small sting of remembering the silence in the ultrasound room.
I couldn’t rely on my network to get ideas of what to do, because no one really talks about miscarriages and how to support someone who had a miscarriage. I turned to Facebook mommy groups and Google and did the best I could to minimize my pregnancy updates in conversation. Years later, even with a healthy baby now, this experience still makes our hearts heavy; so after reflection, my friend was gracious enough to help me put together the following list of ways to support our loved ones going through a miscarriage.
When it comes to supporting your loved one through a miscarriage, it’s important to take their lead, as some women choose to grieve alone, and others seek support. Once you have an idea of how they prefer to navigate their loss, you can support them appropriately. Here are some ideas:
It’s also essential to consider what not to say to someone who had a miscarriage, as well as things to avoid doing as it may only exacerbate the pain of the loss. Try to refrain from the following:
When a mother chooses to share the news of her pregnancy is her personal choice. She may be more reluctant to celebrate her pregnancy if she has previously experienced loss, and this should be respected. A friend once told me that the people you share the news with “early” in the pregnancy should be the people you would bring into your support system in the event of a loss. If you know a friend or family member who has let you into this circle and has had a miscarriage, I hope this article helps you hold a space for them.
In honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, two moms shared their experience with pregnancy loss; to hear their stories, tune into our podcast Ahma Need a Minute - available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.