By Andy Merrett
Jul 17, 2009
Men and Miscarriage: How to cope and how to support
Miscarriage is a tragedy, however statistically common it is and at whatever stage of pregnancy it happens.
It is of course natural and right that any woman who has experienced a miscarriage should be given all the medical help and emotional and physical support and comfort possible.
It’s also important to consider that the male partner / husband is also very likely to be grieving the loss of an unborn child, and also needs support and the space to come to terms with his own emotions.
This article draws together some helpful advice for men on how to cope with miscarriage and how best to support their partner/wife, based on resources from around the web and from personal experience.
I hope it helps you. If you have any thing to add, please feel free to leave a comment at the end of the article.
How “should” you be feeling?
Some articles on this subject, such as Men and Miscarriage: How Men Handle Miscarriage, suggest that men emotionally “move on” quicker than women, but the fact is that everyone is different.
You may find that you don’t react much when you first find out about the miscarriage, and that emotions — ranging from deep sorrow to anger to frustration to feelings of helplessness — come on weeks or even months later.
There’s no right or wrong answer. This is grief, and you have to deal with it in your own way. Typical feelings men experience after miscarriage is a useful primer for both men and women on this.
Communication is Key
No matter how you or your partner may be feeling, reacting and coping with the miscarriage, it is vital that you don’t stop communicating with one another.
The fact is that you are the only two people who know exactly what you’re going through, and though it can be helpful for one or both of you to talk to friends, family or counsellors, you can also be each other’s strength.
The fact is that communication is key to creating and maintaining strong relationships, but particularly during stressful, highly emotional situations like coping with miscarriage.
Grieve alone, and grieve together. Tell your partner how you are feeling and allow her to tell you the same — and acknowledge and empathise with her.
Is It My Fault?
Attributing blame to one or other partner after a miscarriage is extremely unhealthy and should be avoided.
There may be a medical reason which increases the likelihood of a miscarriage, but unfortunately pregnancy loss (particularly early, such as in the first three months) is also considered fairly “normal”.
Laboratory research shows that it is possible for abnormalities to cause a pregnancy to fail — often had the pregnancy gone to full term the baby may well have had a disability anyway so it can sometimes be seen as nature’s way of disallowing unhealthy foetuses to live.
That’s all very clinical, though.
If you and your partner have experienced several miscarriages, it is definitely worth consulting your doctor and having tests to establish whether anything is wrong, and whether some forms of medication may help during pregnancy.
In any case, in the general run of things it’s not really anyone’s “fault”, and even if there is a medical condition it’s often something that can be sorted out.
How can I best support my partner?
The article Miscarriage: how men can deal with it offers advice for supporting your partner after a miscarriage:
- Understand that she will be upset and you can’t fix the problem. You need to be supportive, understanding and appreciate that there will be a grieving process which will take time.
- Understand that even if it’s very early stage pregnancy she will feel like she has lost a baby, even if you don’t. Saying things like “don’t worry it was only the size of a tic-tac” isn’t going to be much help.
- Give her lots of support. She needs to know that you love her.
- It’s important to re-enforce that it’s not her fault. It’s quite possible she may try and blame herself for something she did or didn’t do but it’s highly unlikely the loss had anything to do with her actions. I could write a whole article just on this point but from listening to many men talk about miscarriage, almost all said that their partners felt like she was to blame.
- Encourage her to talk to her female friends and family who have had children. It’s very likely some will have been through the experience and will be able to offer support and advice.
- Understand that a pregnant woman is a sea of hormones and those hormones are still running wild after the loss. Know the signs of depression and seek medical advice if you feel she isn’t coping well after a week or two.
- As guys we like to try and fix problems but sometimes you just need to provide a shoulder to cry on and an ear to talk to. Don’t take it personally or get frustrated that you can’t make her forget about it.
- Spend as much time with her as you can and remain positive about having kids. Having one miscarriage isn’t necessarily a sign that you will have more so focus on staying healthy and having another go when the time is right.
My male friends are unsympathetic
Sometimes it may seem that your male friends aren’t particularly sympathetic to how you’re feeling.
We could put some of this down to the stereotypical guy who doesn’t like to share or show emotions much, or it could just be that you haven’t told them how you’re feeling.
Don’t forget that every man is in a different situation. Single guys may well not understand, married-with-kids guys may well have experience of miscarriage but find it difficult to come alongside you unsolicited.
How do you cope with the sarcastic or seemingly unhelpful comments? I guess it depends on how much it bothers you.
If you can just brush off the “oh well, you don’t really want kids yet” or “you can have my kids” comments (and their many derivatives) then fine — remember that your partner is probably your main confidant and strength anyway.
If not, you need to politely explain that some of their comments aren’t helpful, that you’re happy to talk about the situation with them (if indeed you are) but that the jokes, however well-meaning (bloke diversionary tactics) aren’t helping you.
Don’t let anyone try to cajole you into “moving on” – your grief takes as long as it takes.
What about “trying again” after miscarriage?
At some time after a miscarriage you will both be ready to try to conceive again.
It is really important not to rush things, and to try to understand how each other is feeling.
Conceiving after miscarriage is a really useful article looking at the subject from both female and male perspectives.
Here are some useful resources and interesting articles for further reading around this subject:
- Men and Miscarriage: How Men Handle Miscarriage
- How men cope with miscarriage: John Itsagwede explains how he and his wife dealt with the pain of losing three babies
- Miscarriage coping guide for men
- Typical feelings men experience after miscarriage
- Conceiving After Miscarriage
- Men and Miscarriage
- Miscarriage: How men can deal with it
- Men and miscarriage: Information on support groups
- Helping Men Get Through A Miscarriage
- What Are Men’s Reactions To A Miscarriage?