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Health After Pregnancy

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Last Reviewed: April 2017

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Dealing with the Unexpected

Miscarriage & Stillbirth

Key Points

  • A miscarriage is a pregnancy that ends suddenly before 20 weeks of pregnancy.
  • A stillbirth is the death of a baby after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
  • A miscarriage or stillbirth can happen to any woman of childbearing age.
  • Making memories of your baby is one way to deal with feelings of grief and find comfort.

Complications (something going wrong) during pregnancy - such as a miscarriage or stillbirth - can happen to any woman of childbearing age.

Coping after a miscarriage

Miscarriage

A miscarriage is a pregnancy that ends suddenly before 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The loss of a pregnancy is difficult for women and their partners.

Healing will take time.

Though common, miscarriages are traumatic and difficult for women and their partners.

Everyone has different ways of coping with the loss of a pregnancy. After a miscarriage you and your partner might feel shocked, angry, guilty, sad or even numb.

If you’ve miscarried, you need to find ways of coping that work for you, such as:

  • Talking to family and friends.
  • Speaking with your health care provider.
  • Doing activities you enjoy.
  • Resting and relaxing.
  • Reflecting on your experience.
  • Writing in a journal.
  • Finding and participating in a support group.
  • Speaking with other women who have experienced a miscarriage.

Coping after a stillbirth

Husband Comforting Wife

Stillbirth

A stillbirth is the death of a baby after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

A stillbirth is heartbreaking. If you experience a stillbirth you'll feel many different emotions. It's important that you get help and support to deal with your feelings.

Making memories of your baby is one way to deal with your feelings and find comfort.

Taking pictures of your baby and placing a lock of your baby's hair in a keepsake box will remind you that your baby was - and will always be - a part of you.

Consider speaking with your health care provider about a memorial service for your baby. A memorial service will not only acknowledge your loss, but also provide some closure and comfort to you and your partner.

How to help after a miscarriage or stillbirth

Helping each other cope

It's important for a woman's partner to comfort and support her. Help her in any way she needs, even if it means just listening to her talk about your baby.

Share your feelings too. If you don't know what to say, simply give her a hug and tell her it's normal for her to have these feelings.

Healing takes time, and you might notice that you're not getting the same amount of support from friends and family that you received right after the loss.

Holidays and anniversaries might make you and your partner remember your baby even more. If you need more support during these periods, contact your friends, family or your health care professional.

How to help a grieving friend or relative

If your friend or relative is grieving the loss of a pregnancy or baby, you might not know what to say or how to act. If she doesn't want to talk or see anyone, it's important to respect her wishes.

You can help a loved one who's experienced a loss by:

  • Being honest and telling her you don't know what to say.
  • Listening to her if she wants to talk about her loss.
  • Assuring her that she has your support.
  • Asking her if she needs anything (such as food) then taking care of it for her.
  • Offering to babysit or spend time with her other children.
  • Sending a card or letter if you aren't comfortable talking to her in person.

Don't say:

  • "I know how you feel." (Say this only if you have experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth yourself.)
  • "It's for the best."
  • "You can have another baby."
  • "Don't keep talking about your baby."

Everybody deals with loss in different ways. Remember to keep offering your support regularly, not just right after the loss, but even months later. Anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays might be even more difficult for your friend or family member, so let her know you're there for her.

If you think that your loved one's grief might have become more serious, suggest that she speak with her health care professional.

Bereavement groups and organizations

Bereaved Families of Ontario offers group and online support to adults and children who have lost a loved one or are coping with grief.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Network offers unique support services that meet the special needs of those who have experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth.

The Compassionate Friends of Canada is a self-help organization offering friendship, understanding, grief education and hope for the future to all families who have experienced the death of a child at any age, from any cause.

Speak with a Peel Public Health Nurse
905-799-7700
Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Caledon residents call free of charge at 905-584-2216


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Revised: Wednesday June 28 2017

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