Going Back to Work After Pregnancy Loss

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Going back to work after a pregnancy loss can be tough. While some people may appreciate the distraction of being back on their job, others feel like they’re being forced into a "normal" life they’re not ready for yet.

In fact, research shows that the most common coping mechanisms people use when processing a miscarriage are avoiding or talking about their loss, meaning going back to work may feel welcome for some, but not for others.

Communication between you, a doctor, and your boss are key elements to making your transition back to work go smoothly. Learn more about how to make returning to your job after a miscarriage easier.

Taking Enough Time Off

The amount of time you need off from your job during and after a miscarriage depends on a number of things. Only you know know what you need, but you may want to think about the following considerations.

What Type of Loss You’ve Had

It’s not uncommon for a person who has had an early miscarriage to need just a few days off work to physically recover. On the other hand, a person who has had a stillbirth, ectopic pregnancy loss, or c-section will likely need more time.

What Kind of Work You Do

If you do physically demanding work that requires lifting, you will likely need longer to recover before returning to work.

Your Company’s Policy

Although many employers are sympathetic to grieving parents, not all of them will be willing to work on a flexible return date or extend your leave beyond any available sick hours. Discuss your options with your company's human resources department.

Your Personal Needs

Each person will have their own requirements for how much time they would like off from work. Communicate with a doctor to get permission for a medically-appropriate leave of absence, as needed.

Talk to Your Boss

Pregnancy loss can be a very personal experience. If a miscarriage occurs very early in pregnancy, none of your co-workers or even your immediate supervisor may have known you were pregnant.

As tempting as it might be to take a doctor’s excuse and treat your absence as a typical illness, there is value in sharing your experience with at least one trusted supervisor.

First of all, there is a possibility that you’ll have complications during your recovery that require further medical care. If your supervisor is already aware of your situation, it may be easier to get more time off, if necessary.

Second, if you’ve decided on a funeral or memorial service, you may need additional time off just a few days after you’ve returned to work.

Finally, if you find that you are emotionally unprepared to be back at work, it can be helpful to have an ally on-site. You could need just a few minutes to yourself in a private place to gather your thoughts, or you might need to leave early. Your boss may be much more accommodating if they understand what you’re going through.

Information Control

It’s up to you how much you want your co-workers to know about your loss. If you had already shared the news of your pregnancy at work, it may be easier to tell everyone about your loss than let rumors spread. Alternatively, you can ask someone else to share the news for you, so that you don't have to go through telling everyone in your office individually.

But you don’t have to tell anyone anything you don’t want to share. If you do decide to share your story, be clear in your communication.

Consider using the proper medical term for your type of loss. Be specific with what you are comfortable discussing with co-workers, particularly if you don't want to talk about your loss.

If you are close with some of your co-workers, you may consider providing details about any memorial service, or where to send donations in your baby’s name.

Be prepared, of course, that not everyone will respect your wishes with regard to how you want to talk or not talk about your loss. If you don’t feel comfortable asking a co-worker to be more considerate, take the issue to a supervisor or someone from human resources.

Gradual Return

If your employer is willing, you could consider a gradual return to work. Perhaps, even starting by working from home. Then, return for a shortened day before working up to your regular schedule.

Even if your employer cannot accommodate an adjusted schedule, you could work with a doctor to make your return to work date mid-workweek so you get a break after just a couple of days back.

Practical Tips

What is helpful for one person who is returning to work after a miscarriage may be different for someone else. However, there are some strategies that may make going back to work a bit easier.

Make a To-Do List

When you return, you may find it more difficult to concentrate than usual. Keep a notebook close, and jot down notes to yourself. Create a to-do list to make sure you’re staying on top of your tasks. It also may help you to see the list getting shorter as the day goes on, knowing you can return home at the end of the day.

Seek Out Support

Designate at least one support source. Pick out a friend, either at work or from your personal life, who you can turn to at a moment’s notice if things get tough emotionally. Sometimes, all you need is a few minutes of support to get back to business.

Make a Backup Plan

Although you should not return to work before you have physically recovered, there is always the chance that you’ll find work more difficult than you expected. Before going back, consider lining up a friend or family member who can pick you up if necessary. Also, make sure you learn the warning signs of infection and excessive bleeding so you know if you need medical attention.

A Word From Verywell

Returning to work after pregnancy loss may come with a host of challenges. Give yourself grace as you grieve and recover physically. Ask for what you need and know your rights and your workplace policies. These added preparations can help you get the space and time you need as you transition back to work.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Fernández-Basanta S, Van P, Coronado C, Torres M, Movilla-Fernández MJ. Coping after involuntary pregnancy loss: Perspectives of Spanish European women. Omega (Westport). 2021;83(2):310-324. doi:10.1177/0030222819852849

  2. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Early pregnancy loss.

  3. Van P. Conversations, coping, & connectedness: A qualitative study of women who have experienced involuntary pregnancy loss. Omega (Westport). 2012;65(1):71-85. doi:10.2190/OM.65.1.e

By Elizabeth Czukas, RN, MSN
Elizabeth Czukas is a writer who who has worked as an RN in high-risk obstetrics, antepartum care, and with women undergoing pregnancy loss.