The Do’s and Don’ts of Pregnancy Loss Etiquette
How to be supportive while avoiding an awkward situation.
Posted March 25, 2015
- Key tips on how to support those who have lost.
- What to do when someone might have lost a pregnancy.
- What to avoid when someone might have lost a pregnancy.
You just heard about that couple who experienced a loss. Even though you might not have known they were expecting, you feel shocked, terrible, and don't know how to acknowledge it. You know you can't just avoid it. You have to say or do something, but what?
According to the Mayo Clinic, 10 to 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. Most people are well intended and want to be supportive, but have no idea how to go there and there are plenty of heartbroken parents with war stories of post-miscarriage social awkwardness.
If approximately one million expectant parents per year experience a loss, why do so many people struggle on how to act towards them?
A loss is a loss and can happen at any pregnancy stage for any reason. Unfortunately, a positive pregnancy test does not guarantee a healthy baby. The nature of the loss is nobody’s business. Parents are entitled to feel whatever they feel, so here are some dos and don’ts on how to support them at this stage:
What to do when someone might have lost a pregnancy:
- Realize they might be in a vulnerable place.
- Show a random act of kindness to make them smile.
- Listen if they need an ear, no matter how painful the story.
- Respect whatever they need, whether it is space or company.
- Let them know they are in your thoughts.
- Say nothing if you do not know what to say.
- Be patient when they do not seem like themselves.
- Continue to show up for them.
What to avoid when someone might have lost a pregnancy:
- Mention having another baby.
- Ask questions; they will tell you what they want you to know.
- Flaunt babies, since it can be a painful reminder of what they lost.
- Minimize the situation.
- Judge if it seems like they are taking a long time to bounce back.
- Run away from them.
Hopefully, the parents will heal their souls and will be “themselves” again. They will be in a better place and it will not be as awkward for you. All you can do is be there. How can you be more supportive when people experience pregnancy loss?