Tips for Breaking the News of a Miscarriage or Stillbirth

Talking to Friends Family and Others About Your Pregnancy Loss

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While still getting used to the news themselves, many couples struggle with how best to inform the people in their lives about a recent miscarriage or other pregnancy loss. Breaking the news might feel difficult if family and friends have been supportive of and excited about the pregnancy. Telling people about a miscarriage or stillbirth can also be challenging if you have a lot of people who need to be told.

How to Share the News of a Miscarriage or Other Pregnancy Loss

Here are a few tips on how to get the job done in a way that won't be too taxing for you, but let loved ones know about the situation. 

Keep It Simple

You don't have to give a lot of information about what happened. You can tell people, "We had a miscarriage. The doctor said it happens sometimes." Beyond that, share whatever information you are comfortable sharing. If people press you for information that you're not ready to talk about, it's perfectly fine to close the conversation with, "I just wanted to let you know, but we're not up to talking about it just yet. Thanks for your concern."

Don't Be Afraid to Use Email

If you have other children, you will probably want to talk to them in person. For other relatives, friends, or coworkers, you might find it less stressful to use a mass communication tool such as email. Sending one large email blast could save you stress compared to trying to tell everyone in person, and will reduce the chance that you'll have to immediately respond to unhelpful replies and insensitive comments.

Enlist a Friend or Relative to Break the News

If you had a full-term stillbirth and have a lot of people waiting for news that they aren't aware will be bad, see if you have a friend or relative who might be willing to make the calls for you. Having someone else spread the word could take the pressure off of you so that you can take your time dealing with the news yourself. This idea of letting others step in to help leads to the next suggestion:

Let People Know What You Need

Your friends and relatives probably want to help, but they may not know-how. When people offer to help, take them up on it and let them know what you need. Perhaps you might want them to watch your other children so you can have some time alone, or you might want your best friend to come over and sit with you so you can talk about your feelings. If people are trying to get you to talk but you do not feel ready, thank them for their concern but explain that you are not ready to talk about the loss.

Be Ready for Comments and Advice

Thoughtless, unintentionally hurtful comments are the bane of everyone who has had any kind of pregnancy loss. Be prepared that you may hear some or all of these comments from people in your life. Keep in mind that most people don't mean any harm when they say these things; sometimes do not know what to say.

Don't feel that you have to take it upon yourself to educate someone who makes an ignorant comment, instead, end the conversation as soon as you're able to do so. There's no point in letting someone make you feel worse than you already do, and no need to tolerate rude, insensitive remarks.

By Krissi Danielsson
Krissi Danielsson, MD is a doctor of family medicine and an advocate for those who have experienced miscarriage.