I never thought I would experience a miscarriage but, then again, no one really does. Even though it's no secret that pregnancy loss is relatively common, no one thinks they'll be the one to go through it. I did, though, and I realized that while there were so many things I needed to do to take care of myself the days after my pregnancy loss, there are things dads can (and should) do to support their partner after a miscarriage, too.
Of course, this isn't to say that only cisgender men can help their romantic partners through a pregnancy loss. Gender has nothing to do with it, and there are things every single partner of a once-pregnant woman can do to help her through a potentially devastating situation (or assure her that her feelings of relief or even gratitude are norma, if she isn't particularly sad that her pregnancy has ended). However, men are often told by a sexist society — hellbent on maintaining certain gender stereotypes — that a pregnancy loss is a "woman's problem." False. Involved men are affected by miscarriages and pregnancy losses, too. Just as they were an active participant in the pregnancy beginning, they can be an active participant in the healing that may or may not be necessary after that pregnancy unexpectedly ends.
Since 1 in 20 women will have a miscarriage after they've already had a successful pregnancy, plenty of mothers who know what it's like to have a healthy, "normal" pregnancy, also know what it's like to lose a pregnancy. So, with that in mind, here are just a few ways dads can step up and help their partners through pregnancy loss. After all, we should never go through anything alone.
They Admit That They're Sad And Hurting, Too
When you hear the word "miscarriage," you tend to think about the woman who had it. Rightfully so, as she is experiencing not only the mental ramifications of a pregnancy loss, but the physical ramifications as well. However, men are affected by miscarriages as well, and the first step in helping your partner get through a miscarriage is admitting that you, too, are hurting. It's OK to say that you're sad. It's OK to say that you're in pain. It's OK to say that you had started planning a future with the child you lost, too.
Letting your partner know that you care will make a big difference. A very common feeling after having a miscarriage is an overwhelming feeling of loneliness, so anything that works to combat that feeling is beneficial.
They Research Support Groups And Educate Themselves
My partner's initial reaction, after our miscarriage, was to do whatever it took to help. He wanted to be the one to take my pain and sadness away, and while that was endearing, he was also ill-equipped. There are some things only professionals (or other women who know exactly what it's like to be in a particular situation) can help with. So, my partner researched support groups and did additional research so that I could find the help I needed. Help that he couldn't provide, first hand.
They Refuse To Downplay Or Judge Her Feelings
The worst thing you can do is downplay a woman's pain and feelings of loss after a miscarriage. Whatever your partner is feeling (whether it's sadness or it's relief), it's entirely valid and in no way should it be judged or shame. No one, not even a romantic partner who was part of the pregnancy process from the very beginning, gets to police a woman's emotions in any capacity, especially after she has experienced a pregnancy loss.
...Or Try To Provide "Perspective" By Equating His Partner's Miscarriage To Another Loss
Please, dads, please don't start comparing a pregnancy loss to someone else's death. Don't talk about how your partner should be "thankful," because it "could be worse." Don't bring up stillborns or babies who died just a few days after they were born. Yes, all of those situations are horrific and so very tragic, but there's no need to guilt your partner for feeling sad (or guilt her for not feeling sad) by equating her loss to someone else's.
They Take Care Of Themselves, Too
You can't take care of someone else, if you aren't taking care of yourself, first. If you're feeling sad or depressed or anxious; if you're having problems healing or if you need time to grieve; if you're losing sleep or your appetite, take that time and do what is necessary. You have experienced a loss, too, and just like you cannot and should not police how your partner feels, no one can or should police how you feel, either. Take time for yourself. Not only will this give your partner space (space she might actually want and need) but you will be better equipped to be as supportive as possible.
They Don't Demand A "Timeline" For Their Partner's Grief
Grief isn't linear. In fact, it's a knot of circles and lines all lapping over one another and it doesn't care about a timeline or a deadline or any other "date" we try to give ourselves. If you really want to support your partner, you won't ask that she hurries it up and simply "gets over it." If she is sad, you won't demand that she grieve in a specific amount of time, and then move on.
Everyone grieves differently, and your partner should be supported in whatever she decides works for her (if it's healthy and doesn't put her in danger, of course).
They Remind Their Partner That She's Not Alone...
Studies suggest that anywhere from 10-25 percent of recognized pregnancies will end in a miscarriage. Your partner is far from alone and, sadly, miscarriages and pregnancy losses are far more common than many women think.
...While Acknowledging That Every Situation, Every Circumstance And Everyone's Healing Process Is Different
Still, statistics shouldn't be used to diminish how your partner feels. Each loss is personal, and if your partner is sad about her miscarriage, you shouldn't remind her she's not alone as a way to essentially say, "So many women deal with miscarriages, so get over it." No, statistics should be used to remind her that there is a community of women who can understand her pain and who can help. She is not alone.
They Respect And Facilitate How Their Partner Reacts To Her Loss
Not every woman who experiences a miscarriage, is sad. In fact, so many women feel relief, because pregnancy is a very overwhelming, very scary and very taxing thing. Knowing that your life will essentially change because you're pregnant, can be an enormous realization. So, yes, your partner might not be sad, and that's OK. In fact, that's normal. You don't get the right to tell her that she is "wrong" in how she feels, "cold hearted" because of how she feels or convinced that she won't be a good mother one day because, for now, she is somewhat relieved that she isn't pregnant anymore.
And, of course, some women are absolutely devastated. The best way to support your partner, regardless of what she is feeling, is to respect her and her process and help her do what she needs to do to heal (or simply move on with her life, if she doesn't feel like she has anything to heal from.)
They Refuse To Blame Their Partner
It's not your partner's fault. It's not her fault if she has been stressed out and you think stress contributed to her loss. It's not her fault if she fan five miles earlier in the day and you think that had something to do with her pregnancy loss. It's not her fault in any capacity. Sometimes, for lack of a better description: these things just happen. Do not blame your partner. Instead, support her.