Miscarriage partners 'often feel ignored and invisible'
- 21 July 2014
- From the section Health
Losing a baby early in pregnancy is a distressing event that many women go through. But how do their partners cope with the emotional impact of miscarriage?
According to research from the Miscarriage Association and University College London, partners often feel unable to talk about their feelings of loss and pain.
They keep their feelings hidden for fear of upsetting their wife or partner or saying the wrong thing.
A lack of information about support groups after miscarriage also left many feeling isolated and excluded.
Mahdi Hassan, from Streatham, south London, wanted to support his wife after a miscarriage at 16 weeks, but he also realised he needed support himself.
"I did go straight back to work but then I felt I needed time off and took two weeks off.
"I'm a bus driver, and I've been quite emotional at work. When driving one day I found myself crying."
When Mr Hassan, 38, started talking to people at work about how he was feeling, some colleagues revealed they also had experience of miscarriage.
Simply being able to open up to people made him feel better, he says.
"It's quite unfortunate but there should be more support for men. We are put on the back bench.
"Miscarriage is such a bad experience to go through. You never forget your first child.
"You never get to see them grow and you fantasise about things you could have done together. It stays with you forever."
UCL researchers spoke to 186 partners of women who had miscarried to find out how they coped during and after their loss.
Their findings show that 46% of partners did not share all their feelings with their wife or partner for fear of causing further distress and 22% did not talk about any feelings of loss and pain with their partner.
As a result, nearly half of those questioned said it affected their work and 47% reported having sleep problems.
When asked about the quality of healthcare they received, the majority of partners said they were not told of any support groups for people who had experienced miscarriage.
One in five partners said they felt excluded by healthcare staff and and one in three said they were not given enough information about what was going on.
Ruth Bender Atik, national director of the Miscarriage Association, said the research shows that partners often feel invisible during and after miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.
"Friends and family often ask how the woman who has miscarried is coping, but never think to ask her partner.
"All too often the voices of partners go unheard and their needs go unmet."
She said the campaign was an important way of showing partners that they are not alone, as well as telling them where they can find support.
Erin went through three miscarriages before finally having a baby boy in 2012. Her partner Rachel said all the care was focused on Erin, but she was able to talk to family and friends about how she was feeling, which was very helpful.
"Women have a history of talking openly about awkward things and Erin and I wanted to talk to each other about it," she says.
Where she felt they were let down was after the first miscarriage, when they were waiting for the follow-up hospital appointment.
"The entrance to the water birthing suite was close by and we found that difficult.
"At the appointment we were given no information at all about further care or support groups.
"I mean, how difficult is it to give someone a leaflet?"
The Miscarriage Association wants to remedy that - and make sure that the grief and distress of women who have miscarried and their partners are not overlooked.
Miscarriage is when a woman loses a baby any time up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.
After 24 weeks, losing a baby during pregnancy or labour is called a stillbirth.
No-one knows exactly how many miscarriages happen, but experts think that more than one pregnancy in every five ends in miscarriage.
These include ectopic pregnancies, when a fertilised egg implants itself outside the womb, and molar pregnancies, where the placenta and foetus do not form properly and a baby does not develop.