Losing a child, during pregnancy or otherwise, is a heartache no one should have to endure. Unfortunately, it’s the devastating reality many pregnant people and their partners experience each year: 10 to 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, and roughly five infant deaths occur for every 1,000 live births. 

Whether you carried the pregnancy or your partner did, the emotional (and often physical) toll of such a profound loss can be overwhelming. Here are some ways you can support each other.

Coping with Pregnancy or Infant Loss Together

Allow the Time & Space to Grieve

The aftermath of pregnancy or infant loss will come with a range of emotions, from shock to despair. It’s not just the loss of your baby you’re mourning, but also the future you had envisioned with them. The weight of this void is immense, especially shortly after the loss.

Give yourselves time to grieve by pausing any responsibilities: take time off work, allow friends and family members to lend support with meals and other chores, and don’t feel compelled to respond to everyone who reaches out right away.

“In addition to initial shock and grief, you may experience other, unexpected emotions like guilt, jealousy, bitterness, or even relief,” empathizes Dr. Karen Greene. “These feelings are normal, and while it may seem difficult to imagine right now, they won’t have this intensity forever.”

Communicate Openly

Once the initial shock and numbness subside, you and your partner will have other emotions to work through together. While some couples feel that loss brings them closer, it’s also normal to feel distanced from your partner.

“What’s most important is that you both communicate openly and frequently about your needs. Oftentimes, partners try to ‘fix’ things, and can be left feeling helpless when no words or actions can make the pain go away,” says Dr. Deanna Guthrie. “If this happens, let the other know precisely what would be helpful: oftentimes, even though there’s no ‘right’ thing to say, listening and being present can be a source of comfort in itself.”

Commemorate Your Loss

For some couples, commemorating the loss in a meaningful way is an important step in the grieving process. Journaling, creating a special box for pregnancy and baby items, buying a special piece of jewelry, or planting a tree in your little one’s memory may bring you some comfort. Of course, if you’d prefer not to or simply aren’t ready, that’s perfectly fine, too.

Accept Differences in Coping

“Partners will cope differently as they grieve the loss of a child,” states Dr. Mironda Williams. “It can be frustrating if your partner seems to be moving forward at a different pace than you.” Some people internalize certain aspects of grief while others are more outwardly expressive. Try to acknowledge that healing won’t look the same for you both, but that doesn’t mean your relationship is at all flawed, or that your partner is unaffected by the loss.

Involving Your Partner in Getting Help

If you’re struggling to care for yourself or experiencing lasting, intense emotions, there’s help available. Some therapists specialize in helping individuals work through grief following pregnancy loss, stillbirth, and other types of infant loss. Couples’ counseling can also be a great option, since it can provide a safe space for you and your partner to share feelings openly and establish tools to support each other.

Our compassionate providers are here to support you. If you’re seeking a safe place for empathetic, personalized gynecological or obstetrical care, request an appointment online or call our office at 770-487-9604.