Dealing With Miscarriage as a Father

Coping as a Couple

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There are few greater challenges for an expectant father than to deal with his partner's miscarriage. While your partner will experience huge physical and emotional challenges in dealing with miscarriage, fathers also feel the loss associated with a miscarried pregnancy.

What Is a Miscarriage?

The simple definition of miscarriage is the spontaneous termination of a pregnancy. Miscarriage affects about 25 percent of all expectant women and generally happens between four and six weeks. Miscarriage almost always happens before the 13th week of pregnancy. The chances of a miscarriage are higher in first pregnancies than in later ones.

Miscarriages happen for a wide variety of reasons. About half are due to abnormalities in the fetus or the placenta, including chromosomal problems. Sometimes the egg attaches in the wrong place, resulting in an early miscarriage. Most times, miscarriage occurs totally outside of the control of the expectant mother.

But both physically and emotionally, miscarriage means much more than the textbook definition. There are strong physical, emotional and spiritual effects on a couple who experience a miscarriage.

What Are the Effects of a Miscarriage?

A miscarriage can affect you profoundly in several ways.

  • Physical effects: For the mother, there are a number of painful and unpleasant effects of a miscarriage. There will usually be significant vaginal bleeding and the passing of large clots. This in and of itself is a little unnerving for the mom and her partner. After all, how much blood is too much or how many clots are too many? How can you tell what is to be expected and what is not? In addition, a mom's body often reacts like it does when she gives birth, so, for example, her breasts may enlarge and be tender. Her hormones will likely cause unexpected emotional and physical reactions, which only complicate the feelings of loss.
  • Emotional effects: For both mom and dad, there are significant emotional issues. Clearly, the feeling of loss is real for both expectant parents. Having your dreams of having a baby shattered can be a huge blow. You may both feel fearful about becoming pregnant again, not wanting to risk the physical and emotional drain of a miscarriage. The feeling of emptiness a mom experiences is both physical and emotional. There may be feelings of guilt or failure. And there may be a sense of overall depression or discouragement.
  • Spiritual effects: An experience like a miscarriage can cause men to question their faith or stray from their spiritual moorings. They may ask questions like, "If there is a God, how could he have let this happen to me and my wife?" Usually, these kinds of questions are fleeting as spiritually-focused fathers turn to prayer and faith, but they can also have long-lasting implications as you try to reconcile your grief with your belief systems.
  • Relationship effects: You and your partner both need emotional support at this time, and this can lead to stresses on the relationship. It is easy to fall into guilt and blame. Minor irritations and tensions can escalate. You may even feel like you are headed for a breakup.

How Is the Father Affected?

Fathers who experience miscarriage realize that there will not be a little girl to watch grow up or a little boy to play ball or go fishing with. Often a dad's dreams of children are just as real and meaningful as the mom's.

The typical male attitude in the face of crisis is to fix things (that is one of their partners' biggest complaints about them). But a miscarriage cannot be fixed. There is nothing but time that will heal the scar of the loss of an embryonic life. In that light, a father will feel powerless and hopeless to address his own feelings and the sadness experienced by his partner.

How Should I Deal With My Grief ​and That of My Partner?

You both are likely to experience the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance). You won't always follow a sequence and each can take a variable length of time, resulting in the two of you often being in different places emotionally. You will need to give each other the freedom to experience grief in your own way.

  • Know what to say and what not to say: Many moms who have miscarried have suggested that their husbands not try to console them with a message that "You can still have other kids." For mom, this baby was unique and special. Having more kids in any number will not eliminate the feeling of loss. Talking about other pregnancies may be the male way of trying to fix it. What Mom needs is a listening ear, sympathy and a reassurance of your love for her. This kind of attitude will help her deal more effectively with her loss.
  • Talk or write it down: Men typically don't talk to other men about their feelings, even in the case of a miscarriage. It is just not their way of grieving. But some dads have experienced some peace and healing by writing down some of those feelings and "giving them life" on paper. That can be very therapeutic for a grieving father. You may also find value in a support group, counselor, or therapist, either together as a couple or individually.
  • Support your partner: Your partner will often feel the loss of a child more keenly that you will. So take the time to sit with her, hold her, listen to her express herself. Just being there and supporting her through her grief will really help her process the experience.
  • Get busy: Men will often turn to a project to help assuage the feelings of grief and loss. It is not a bad way to deal with everything that is going on around you. Being busy (but not too busy to be supportive to your partner) will help with the passing of time and will focus you in a positive direction. One project to consider is a remembrance project for the lost baby, such as planting a tree or making something that will be your tangible memorial. Even taking an action such as releasing a helium balloon, lighting a birthday candle on the baby's due date, or giving to a charity can help work through grief.
  • Don't rush it: A good day can be followed by a bad day. You may think you or your partner are done grieving, but it comes back full force a few days later. This is natural, and you must give each other all of the time it needs.

A Word From Verywell

Miscarriage is a huge blow to an expectant couple. Stay focused on supporting each other and realize that time will help the healing process. Don't be afraid to get professional help if you find you or your partner are having difficulties with the effects of miscarriage. You can find peace even as you grieve for the loss of that one special life.

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Article Sources
  • Early Pregnancy Loss. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Early-Pregnancy-Loss#what.