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Six Things You Never Say to Someone After a Miscarriage
As medical professionals, we are very aware that miscarriage is common; so common, in fact, that many women of reproductive age will miscarry during their childbearing years, and some of them may not even be aware that they are miscarrying because of when the miscarriage occurs.
Women and men respond to miscarriage in a variety of different ways, and are sometimes surprised by the emotions that a miscarriage elicits. For people who have struggled to conceive, a miscarriage may be especially painful. Given that this seems obvious to us, we are often surprised by the types of things our patients report that their well-meaning family and friends have told them after a miscarriage. So, we have put together a list of six things never to say to someone who has miscarried:
- “It was God’s will.”
Even if this statement would give you great personal comfort if you were I the same situation, it can come across as meaning that God would not intend for that person to have children and can be extremely hurtful to someone who has just suffered a loss.
- “There must have been something wrong with the baby.”
While we agree that statistics somewhat support this, miscarriage is also linked to a variety of factors that have nothing to do with fetal health. Furthermore, even if it is true, many people fall in love with their babies from the moment they found out about them and would eagerly welcome a baby regardless of any health challenges; knowing about imperfections does not lessen the loss. More on Miscarriage
- “At least you can get pregnant.”
Working in fertility, we know that many people keep their struggles with infertility very private. You have no idea if that couple was trying for two weeks or two years to conceive. Even if they were not trying for an extended period of time, they have still experienced a loss.
- “You must have old eggs/bad eggs/bad sperm.”
It is hard to imagine why anyone would think this was an appropriate way to respond to someone losing a pregnancy, but it actually seems to be a common insensitive response. Just don’t.
- “You’ll get pregnant again.”
Maybe they will, and maybe they will not. If the miscarriage followed a struggle with infertility, then they are going to have a real concern that they will not conceive. If the miscarriage is one in a pattern of recurrent miscarriages, then getting pregnant is not the obstacle.
If someone has shared the fact of a lost pregnancy with you, then not responding at all can be very hurtful. You do not have to have an eloquent or poetic statement. A simple, “I’m sorry for your loss,” lets them know that you are thinking of them.