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Facing Pregnancy Loss (miscarriage) as a Couple

Facing pregnancy loss

Pregnancy is an exciting time in a couple’s life as a twosome prepares to be a threesome. It is a time that is connected with hope and future planning. A predominant thought is that once the pregnancy test comes back positive, it’s sit back and wait nine months for baby’s arrival. However, for many couples, this idea never reaches completion as the pregnancy ends prematurely—way before the birth of a baby.

One in four known pregnancies will end in a miscarriage, or an early loss that is defined as a spontaneous pregnancy loss prior to 20-weeks gestation. The causes for miscarriage aren’t completely known. In nearly half of all miscarriages prior to 12-weeks gestation, the cause is a chromosomal abnormality that caused the cells within the pregnancy to stop dividing. As common as miscarriage is, Americans rarely talk about it. As a culture, we have very little language or customs that relate to death, particularly such an early loss.

How miscarriages affect the couple

Miscarriage can be really confusing for a couple: they might have been getting used to the idea of being pregnant and now have to begin again. Often times, each member of a couple will experience a miscarriage differently. Generally, women experience more emotional distress after a miscarriage than their male partners. Men tend to see miscarriage as a “blip” in their plans, and tend to rebound from the initial shock quickly.

Another aspect that can be difficult between the genders is how the pregnancy is seen: for example, often times, men look at an early miscarriage as a rational event: something wasn’t right with the pregnancy and this is how nature manages it. For them, it was an idea, and that idea of a baby is still relevant, but will need more time to be realized. Women often see miscarriage as the death of a baby.

Perhaps they had experienced changes in their body or how the experienced the world. An early loss is mourned as the death of possibility. Additionally, women might feel responsible for the loss and blame themselves for it.

Couples experiencing loss need to recognize that there is no correct way to grieve and acknowledge that within the couple, the styles of mourning might differ. Keeping up communication and sharing expectations can be helpful in navigating through the grief. Being honest and open about what each person’s needs might be is also essential.

A place where some couples struggle is with the idea of when to try again. Again, being able to communicate through this decision is important.

Most couples that experience a miscarriage will go onto have a subsequent healthy pregnancy. Often times, navigating through a loss together builds a stronger foundation for a couple and increases methods in which they communicate. Respecting the different ways of grieving is important to sustaining a solid foundation in the relationship.

  VERIFIED EXPERT
Dr. Julie Bindeman is driven to help people with their personal journeys to parenthood as a result of her own experiences. She graduated from George Washington University with a doctorate in clinical psychology. Starting in graduate school, she developed an interest in identity formation across the lifespan. She has worked in a variety of settings including outpatient mental health, private practices, schools, and Universities. She has served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Maryland Psychological Association (www.marylandpsychology.org) since 2008. Her private practice, Integrative Therapy of Greater Washington was founded in 2007 with Nanci Brown, LCSW-C. She contributed a chapter to the book The Burden of Choice which was released by Springer Publishing in 2015.

More by Julie Bindeman

When Sex is a Chore

How to Survive Infertility as a Couple

When Marriage and the Baby Carriage Collide


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