Just of recent, in an opinion piece titled ‘The Losses We Share’ for the New York Times, Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex revealed that she suffered the loss of her unborn, second child in July (Read Here).
The 39-year-old mom-of-one’s words prompted support and solidarity from people everywhere who have miscarried including model mom-of-two, Chrissy Teigen.
Note that pregnant women who experience miscarriages can experience bleeding, cramping, depression, and PTSD after their loss.
Their partners, like Prince Harry, John Legend may wonder what their role is in all this. Studies show it’s common for fathers to experience a crisis of identity after a miscarriage, but it’s natural to question how much space to give their feelings of grief, and how to be supportive.
Below are three ways men can deal with their own trauma and support their partners following a miscarriage according to experts.
Don’t rush to offer solutions
Consoling your partner with solutions or phrases like “you can have another baby” or “we can try again” might be the go-to response when mourning the loss.
But it’s important to listen to the needs of the person that just miscarried. Instead, you should prioritize asking what they need in the moment or simply sitting down and listening without any questions.
“Simply being there for your partner by listening and giving her ‘a shoulder to cry on’ is often what women want most from their partners,”
READ ALSO: 7 Tips To Recovering After A Miscarriage
Be prepared to talk about the baby
Oftentimes, parents will get attached to children before they are born — imagining names, how they will look, and who they will become.
In many cases, the American Pregnancy Association says, “hearing others say the name helps a grieving person heal.”
Be prepared, as a partner, to say it back; to be a sounding board and discuss the child. It may be a challenge, but it may be crucial support.
Your own feelings are valid, and you will be a better partner if you recognize them
It’s common for partners to feel their main responsibility is to support the healing process.
But it is also important for partners to dedicate time to understanding their own feelings about the miscarriage rather than pushing them aside.
It’s not uncommon for cisgender, heterosexual men to exhibit “feelings of sadness, devastation, powerlessness, fear, shock and a loss of identity” after a miscarriage, according to a study published in the journal PLOS One.
Staying silent on your own feelings may cause feelings of resentment or depression, the “Miscarriage Association” warns, which is why it’s crucial to find a way to process them.
Processing can look like journaling, talking it out with a therapist or close friend, or even starting on a project to focus energy and attention on.
Following Meghan’s sad story, miscarriage charities advised that women should not be afraid to reveal their pregnancies before the 12-week scan as announcing good and bad news “in the same breath” is painful.
The charities also spoke out about the importance of sharing news of their pregnancy with loved-ones so they have a network of support in place should the worst happen.
If women feel comfortable doing so, telling their inner circle they are pregnant before the traditional milestone of the 12-week scan could be beneficial, they say.
Ruth Bender Atik, national director of the Miscarriage Association, told The Telegraph:
“Some people who have gone through miscarriages were glad they told people because they were then around when things went wrong and they were understandingly happy then devastated, and that was helpful.
“They’ve said they’ll always be open about their next pregnancies and maybe there’s a risk of someone saying ‘are you sure you ought to be telling people?’, but it’s for them to make that decision.”
Clea Harmer, chief executive of Sands, agreed:
“It’s a really helpful thing to be exploring. It’s like anything, there are pros and cons, and it’s down to the individual but especially if there’s a miscarriage it’s incredibly difficult to explain and ask for support, announcing and pregnancy then miscarriage in the same breath, sharing that moment of grief when you’re trying to come to terms with it yourself. Not sharing the news cuts down the support.”
The Duchess described the experience as “an almost unbearable grief experienced by many but talked about by few”.
She noted that despite the “staggering commonality of this pain”, the subject remains taboo, “riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning”.
Ms Harmer added that Meghan “beautifully illustrated how you can tell people of your pregnancy and love for your child, then the loss and pain that causes” and had provoked important conversations about losing your baby.
Some experts believe women are reluctant to share the news because they fear it will “jinx” their pregnancy.
Kate Marsh, midwifery manager at Tommy’s, said:
“People can be wary of telling anyone before they reach 12 weeks, which feeds into awful misconceptions about mothers being to blame for their loss and ‘jinxing it’ by sharing too soon.
“Some people going through loss find it harder to open up and ask for support when nobody knew they were pregnant yet, but others tell us how the pain of their grief was made worse by having to tell loved ones they wouldn’t get to meet their longed-for baby.”