How Can You Help Your Partner After A Miscarriage?

Miscarriages are pregnancy losses that occur before the 20th week of pregnancy — and they are far more common than you may think. According to the Cleveland Clinic, as many as 10-20% of pregnancies are lost within the first trimester. Miscarriages do happen after 20 weeks, but these are relatively rare.


About half of miscarriages happen because of chromosomal defects that make the fetus unable to survive. There are several other reasons a pregnancy loss might occur. In the vast majority of cases, nothing can be done to prevent a miscarriage, and nothing the pregnant person did caused the miscarriage.

Losing a pregnancy is often devastating for the person who was pregnant and their partner, if they have one. One study found that nearly 20% of people who'd had a miscarriage developed depression and/or anxiety within a few months of the loss, and continued to experience these symptoms for more than a year after the loss (via The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders).

The partners of people who've experienced a miscarriage play a crucial role in helping their partners through their grief and healing process. However, many partners have never experienced a loss like a miscarriage before and don't really know how to help. Additionally, they're likely grieving as well, complicating their ability to be supportive.


So, we've put together this guide to help partners of those who've lost a pregnancy through this painful and challenging time. Here are some things you can do to support your partner.

Help your partner with their physical symptoms

While your partner is dealing with the heartbreak of losing a pregnancy, they'll also be enduring some painful physical symptoms, per The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. If your partner's doctor suggests waiting for the miscarriage to happen naturally or prescribes a medication to speed up the process, your partner will go through the physical symptoms of pregnancy loss at home, hopefully with you to support them.


For many people, a miscarriage feels like a horrible period. Most people experience intense, painful cramps, worse than normal period cramps, and heavy vaginal bleeding, more than a typical period. This heavy vaginal bleeding will include "pregnancy tissue," which may be very upsetting for your partner to see. It usually takes a few hours for all this tissue to pass, but it can take a few days.

Your partner will probably be very physically uncomfortable while the miscarriage is happening. The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests using prescription or over-the-counter pain medications like Ibuprofen to manage the discomfort. A heating pad may also help. You can help by tracking when your partner last took pain meds and bringing them meds at regular intervals. Additionally, you can set up a space where they can comfortably rest and ensure they have a heating pad.


Being present for your partner, checking on their physical symptoms, and getting them anything they need is the best way to help while the miscarriage is actually happening.

Cook, clean, and let your partner rest

A pregnancy loss will leave your partner physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. Caitlyn O'Neil, an influencer who shares about infertility and pregnancy loss on Instagram and TikTok, told USA Today that she had zero capacity to cook or even feed herself in the days after her miscarriage. Experts added that the physical and emotional exhaustion after a miscarriage means the chores aren't getting done either. In a blog post for The University of New Mexico Health, Dr. Naomi Swanson agreed, stating that taking care of things around the house allows your partner to get the rest they desperately need without feeling like they should be cooking and cleaning.


So, encourage your partner to lie down, and while they do, clean up around the house. Do some dishes and laundry. Make them a nice meal. If you're not a cook, consider ordering from their favorite restaurant or asking friends and family to drop off some easily reheatable meals.

Experts from the Georgetown University School of Nursing state that nutrition is an essential part of the physical recovery from a pregnancy loss, so you'll be helping your partner a lot by making sure they're eating well and hydrating. Their grief may make it difficult to remember to eat or drink regularly, so don't be afraid to bring them some food and a water bottle throughout the day.

Understand that you may feel differently

Studies into how men grieve a pregnancy loss revealed that men often experience the loss much differently than their partners (via BMC Pregnancy Childbirth). One study found that some men become deeply invested in the pregnancy while others don't develop a strong attachment to their babies during the early stages of pregnancy. Either experience is completely normal.


Therapist Julia Bueno wrote in an essay for Vox that some partners have a hard time grieving a pregnancy loss because the baby wasn't real to them yet. So, your feelings about the miscarriage may be far less intense than your partner's. The Miscarriage Association notes that some partners, regardless of sex or gender, will feel more "disappointed rather than distressed." You may even be confused as to why your partner is so devastated, which might make you feel guilty that your feelings aren't as intense as theirs. If this is the case, you may want your partner to move on.

Your partner is probably experiencing very different feelings. They were probably very attached to the baby and the idea of becoming a parent, especially if the pregnancy was further along. They may feel the loss as intensely as if they'd lost a family member, so they may be crying all the time, depressed, anxious, or even angry. They may also think they somehow caused the miscarriage and feel intense guilt.


To be supportive to your partner, you'll need to make space for their feelings and accept that they probably won't feel the same way as you.

Handle mood swings gently

In the days, weeks, and months after a miscarriage, your partner may experience intense mood swings. They may seem fine one minute and be sobbing or yelling at you the next minute. According to Stanford Medicine, these mood swings are a normal expression of the grief accompanying a pregnancy loss.


Hormonal shifts also contribute to mood swings during and after a miscarriage. Dr. Jaclyn Tolentino told Parsley Health that when a pregnancy ends prematurely, the hormones involved in pregnancy change dramatically. Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), estrogen, and progesterone all increase sharply and rapidly during the first trimester to support the pregnancy. When a miscarriage happens, the levels of each of these hormones drops significantly over a short period of time. Whenever hormone levels change like this, mood swings inevitably follow.

Though your partner's mercurial temperament after a pregnancy loss may be difficult to deal with, it's important to understand that mood swings are completely normal and have little or nothing to do with you. Be gentle with your partner, even if they're lashing out at you. As much as you can, avoid conflict, set boundaries, and do what you can to help them through their feelings.


Make space for your own grief

Studies have found that many men whose partners have a miscarriage also experience depression and anxiety after the loss (per Journal of Women's Health). However, men are much less likely to actively express their grief or discuss it with their partners.


Psychologist Irving Leon, who works specifically with clients dealing with pregnancy loss, told TIME that men often worry that expressing their feelings will make their partner feel worse than they already do. Sharon Covington, who provides psychological support to the patients at a fertility clinic, added that men are generally taught to suppress their emotions, be strong and stoic in the aftermath of loss, which makes many men feel like they can't show their grief.

In an essay for Vox, therapist Julia Bueno wrote that many men feel extreme pressure to support their partners after a miscarriage, which can leave them feeling like they don't have any space for their own grief. Some men actively bury their grief in caring for their partner.


Per The Lily, the experiences of queer couples who've dealt with miscarriage aren't shared as widely as the experiences of hetero couples, which can leave queer couples feeling like they have to process their grief alone because no one understands.

Though supporting your partner through the grieving process is important, it's just as important to make space for your own feelings. Share your feelings with your partner, family, and close, trusted friends, and find practices that help you process your feelings.

Take alone time to process your grief

A lot of people find it helpful to engage in practices that encourage self-reflection, sitting with emotions, and quieting the mind. Natasha Weiss, a doula with a degree in psychology, suggests starting a "miscarriage grief journal." She says that journaling each day helps you intentionally reflect on how you're feeling and where you're at in your grieving process. If you're not sure what to write about, Weiss recommends jotting down how your body feels, the events of your day and how you felt, or what you're grateful for.


Anna Gannon, yoga and meditation teacher, shared how meditation helped her process her own miscarriage in a blog post for Expectful. She wrote that getting quiet and bringing her focus inward during meditation allowed her to feel all her emotions, acknowledge them, and breathe them out. Meditation can look like just sitting, being quiet, and watching your breath, listening to a guided meditation about grief, or repeating a word multiple times.

If sitting for a meditation sounds like torture, you could try a yoga practice as well. Yoga combines moving the body with focusing on the breath, which some people find easier than sitting meditations. Yoga Journal suggests a restorative yoga sequence with mantra meditations to help you relax and focus.


Taking time to reflect and process your grief on your own ensures that you're not stuffing your own feelings to take care of your partner, which allows you to support them better.

Just listen

When someone we love is suffering, it's completely normal to want to "fix it." But sometimes, people just need us to listen deeply and validate what they're feeling. For a study published in Human Reproduction Open, researchers asked couples who'd been through a pregnancy loss how they wanted their partners, friends, and family members to support them after a miscarriage. Many of the women participating in the study said that they "wanted their partners to listen to them 'without suggesting solutions.'" They just wanted their partners to hear them and express empathy and understanding, not try to fix it.


The experts at Miscarriage Australia state that the desire to give advice or provide a solution when supporting someone who's had a miscarriage often comes from not knowing what to say as well as a desire to make the person feel better. Though the intention is good, giving advice or offering a solution isn't what most people going through this grief want, especially from people who haven't gone through a pregnancy loss.

So instead of trying to come up with a solution or the perfect response, simply be present with your partner, show them that you're actively listening, and validate their feelings.

Talk to your partner on their terms

One study into how couples communicate after a miscarriage found that, generally, women wanted to talk about the loss with their partner openly and often, whereas men didn't want to talk about it much at all (via the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health). One reason men gave for their resistance was being scared of saying the wrong thing or making their partner feel worse. Another study that examined what couples want from each other after a pregnancy loss found that men often wanted their partners to focus less on the loss, while women wanted their husbands to be more empathetic, compassionate, and communicative (per Human Reproduction Open).


According to the Miscarriage Association, queer couples experiencing miscarriage may have different communication issues. The partner who wasn't pregnant may not want to talk because they feel guilty about choosing not to carry the baby or they may be scared to center their own feelings of loss instead of their partner's.

Communication after a pregnancy loss is hard. It's important to follow your partner's cues and let them dictate when to talk about it and how the conversation will go. Listen to what they're asking for when it comes to communication and try to accommodate that, even if you're scared or uncomfortable. The Miscarriage Association suggests choosing set times to talk about using a communication technique where each of you can talk for five minutes uninterrupted so each of you can say what you need to say without your partner jumping in.


Expect conflict and come up with a plan

The grief of a miscarriage, the hormonal rollercoaster your partner is on, and differing feelings and communication styles about the loss create a perfect storm for conflict. One study found that the stress of the loss and the differing grieving styles of partners often led to more conflict in the relationship (via Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience). The authors of this study hypothesized that this may be because partners have a difficult time understanding the loss from their partner's perspective and supporting their partner while processing their own feelings.


Another study that examined closeness within relationships after a miscarriage found that nearly 1/3 of women reported feeling disconnected from their partner even a year after the miscarriage (per Psychosomatic Medicine). The authors of this study suggested that this may be due to conflict within the relationship because of the miscarriage. Research in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience has also found that couples who experience a miscarriage are much more likely to break up than couples who had a normal pregnancy.

However, this doesn't mean your relationship is doomed by a pregnancy loss. One study found that relationship satisfaction after a miscarriage was significantly impacted by how the partners communicated with each other after the loss (via the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health). Those who described their communications as "open" instead of "reserved" were much happier with their relationships.


Know that conflict will happen, and that's okay. Make a plan for how you'll manage your feelings and respect your partner's feelings during conflict — and remember that empathy, compassion, and openness are the essentials.

Remind your partner it's not their fault

In an article for the Mayo Clinic, Gabriela Cardenas Palecek, OB-Gyn, explains that miscarriages are most often caused by chromosomal defects that can't be prevented. She unequivocally states, "This means it's neither mom nor dad's fault."


Unfortunately, many people who experience miscarriages internalize the blame. According to an NPR feature on miscarriage, a lack of public conversation about pregnancy loss means that many people don't understand why miscarriages happen. A significant portion of people surveyed for the feature believe that miscarriages could be caused by "a stressful event (76%); lifting something heavy (64%); previous use of contraception like an IUD (28%) or birth control pills (22%); and even an argument (21%)." In truth, none of these factors cause miscarriages. And 22% of people surveyed believed that drug use, drinking, or smoking cigarettes was the leading cause of miscarriage. Though these lifestyle choices can increase risk for miscarriage, they are not the cause of the majority of losses.


Even if your partner logically knows that it wasn't their fault, they may still blame themselves. As often as you can, remind them that there's nothing they could have done to prevent the miscarriage and that it certainly was not their fault. Be sure to make it clear that you don't blame them either and that you understand the miscarriage wasn't caused by anything they did.

Go to couples counseling

Chances are, you and your partner will need help processing your feelings and working on your partnership in the aftermath of a pregnancy loss. For some people, that help comes from friends and family members. Others will need professional help.


Kristin Douglas, a licensed counselor, told Counseling Today that many couples need help understanding their feelings about the loss, and sometimes only a professional can help with that. Marriage and family therapist Valorie Thomas added that miscarriages are a unique kind of grief because you're not grieving your memories of a person; you're grieving your dreams for a future that isn't manifesting. This kind of grieving is challenging to process, and many couples need professional help working through the nuances.

Additionally, miscarriage can trigger serious mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and even PTSD, according to a study published in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. These should be managed by a professional, and you definitely should not try to manage your partner's or your mental health on your own.


You might not love the idea of going to therapy, especially with your partner. You might be anxious about what will come up or embarrassed about talking to a stranger about very personal thoughts, feelings, and relationship dynamics. However, couples counseling can provide a safe, structured place for you and your partner to work through this difficult and complex time in your relationship. 

Don't rush the healing

Annia Palacios, licensed counselor, told PsychCentral that miscarriage is not something that people "get over." She explained that, over time, the loss becomes part of them and the pain of grief gets less intense. But it's not something you heal from completely, and it can take a long time for the intense grief to pass. Giving yourself, and especially your partner, time and space for grief is an essential part of the healing process.


It's also necessary to let go of any timeline for the healing process you may have in mind, according to Tommy's, a pregnancy charity in the U.K. You may feel fine after a few days, weeks, or months, and expect that your partner is also feeling better. You may even want your partner to move on from the loss.

However, their healing process can take a lot longer. Palacios said that it's common to feel intense grief for three to four months, at the very least. But some people continue to feel the pain for a lot longer than that — sometimes years. This is especially true if the grief triggered a mental health condition.

Don't rush your healing process or your partner's. Even if you're not feeling that intense grief anymore, let them know it's okay to take their time and that you'll be there to help them with their grief no matter how long it takes.


Consider memorializing your angel baby

Angel baby is a term that many people who've experienced miscarriages use to talk about the pregnancies they've lost, according to Undefining Motherhood. Some people who've lost a pregnancy, had very definite ideas of what life with their forthcoming baby will be like. Some even named their baby before the loss. For these couples, the loss of the pregnancy really does feel like the loss of a baby.


Katy Huie Harrison, founder of Undefining Motherhood, points out that society has all sorts of established rituals for the deaths of loved ones that help us grieve and process our feelings alone and with others. However, when someone loses a pregnancy there aren't defined rituals. There's no wake or funeral or gravesite.

So, a lot of couples choose to create their own rituals to memorialize the babies they'll never get to meet. This memorialization can be anything that helps you and your partner. Some people do a candle lighting ceremony, get a bunch of baby balloons and let them float away, plant something in their garden or get a houseplant, or create a visual space in their house to remember their baby. Other ideas could be getting a special piece of jewelry, a stuffed toy like one you would have given to your baby, a statuette of something like a baby or an angel, or a tattoo.


When your partner lets you know it's okay to talk about it, discuss what feels right for both of you.

Do not talk about sex until your partner is ready

In a feature about sex after miscarriage for The Cut, Jessica Zucker said that many women she spoke to explained that their miscarriages left them feeling like their bodies were defective or that their bodies had betrayed them. These negative feelings about their bodies had a major impact on their sex drives. Other women talked to Zucker about their fear that sex would hurt or lead to another pregnancy, which could lead to another loss. This was Zucker's experience after her own loss. Many women told Zucker they had little to no interest in sex for a long time after their pregnancy loss.


But some partners struggle to understand this aversion to sex after a miscarriage. One study that examined couples' relationship dynamics after a miscarriage found that a significant number of male partners wished their partners would have sex with them more often or wished they had a more "satisfying sex-life" after a miscarriage (via Human Reproduction Open). The same study found that women wished their partners were more understanding of their "lack of sexual desire."

Even if you want your sex life to get back to normal and you're frustrated by your sex life, do not bring it up until your partner is ready to talk about it. Miscarriage brings up a lot of complicated feelings about sex, and your partner will need time and space before they feel like having sex again.


Wait until you're both ready to conceive again

From a purely physical perspective, most people will be ready to conceive again within three months after a miscarriage, per the National Institutes of Health. There's also some evidence that people who choose to try again within three months after a loss have an easier time conceiving than those who wait longer.


However, being emotionally ready to try for another baby is a completely different thing. According to Tommy's, some couples feel that trying again soon after the miscarriage is the best way to move forward and process their grief. But other couples need to give themselves more time to grieve their loss.

Trouble can arise when couples disagree about when to start trying to conceive again. According to Sands, a miscarriage charity in the U.K., research has shown that the partner who wasn't pregnant often wants to start trying for another baby sooner than the partner who was pregnant. Of course, sometimes this dynamic is flipped. Either way, conflict can occur when partners have different ideas about when to try again.


If you're eager to try to conceive again, approach conversations with your partner about this gently, and be prepared to hear that they want to wait. Support their decision and let the conversation be for a while. If you're worried about trying again and want to wait, make this clear to your partner and hold space for their feelings about this.

Remember you're in this together

The weeks, months, and even years after a miscarriage can be really difficult for you and your partner as individuals and for your relationship. Research shows that it's common for couples to go through a rough patch after a miscarriage, and that different styles of processing grief are a major contributor to these difficulties (per Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience).


Experts and couples who'd experienced miscarriages told The Lily that it's really hard to process grief together. It requires seeing your partner in a lot of pain, often while you're also in a lot of pain, which is understandably difficult. To add to the difficulty, partners who were pregnant often feel that it's impossible for their partners to understand what they're going through, which creates distance in the relationship.

While you're going through your own grief — seeing your partner in pain and struggling to understand their experience — it can be hard to remember that you're in this with your partner. But going through this pain together can make your relationship stronger.

Make sure to take care of yourself as much as you take care of your partner, make space for your grief as well as theirs, and let them lead the conversation. You will get through this as long as you stick together, practice empathy and compassion, and center your love.