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Infertility & Reproduction Health Center

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Couples May Change After Miscarriage

Pregnancy Loss Can Strengthen Relationship, or Tear It Apart

Men, Women, and Pregnancy Loss continued...

When relationships had grown more distant, partners had done less to show they cared. Women in distant relationships reported more negative feelings --depression, anger, confusion, and tension.

"Women who were sexually more distant avoided intercourse, experienced less desire, and saw sex as a functional necessity, fearful reminder of loss, and source of tension," writes Swanson.

Women in distant relationships may have felt abandoned, she says. When men shared their feelings, women felt it helped them pull through a difficult time. Words of Wisdom

In counseling couples, Swanson finds that "naming what they have lost" helps them get to the heart of issues surrounding pregnancy loss.

Women will say, "I lost my baby."

But for men, the answer varies: For some, it's 'I lost a baby;' for others, it's 'a future baby.' "Or, if you give them more time, they will say, 'I lost her, she's just not herself, I want her to get back to how she was,'" Swanson tells WebMD.

The bottom-line message: If men don't respond, the relationship will be at risk. "Show her you care, be extra attentive," says Swanson. "You can bring your relationship closer if you can keep communication open."

Doctors, Midwives, Nurses Can Help

Whoever is involved at the hospital -- doctor, nurse, midwives -- can help grieving parents get through this trauma of pregnancy loss, says Nadine Kaslow, PhD, a professor of psychology at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

"Doctors can talk to couples, prepare them that this is a difficult time emotionally, tell them it's really important that they talk about what miscarriage means to them," Kaslow tells WebMD. "Talk to them realistically about what has happened. Then make an appointment to see them back in a month, together." Follow-up is very important, she says.

A nurse or midwife can also offer guidance and encourage couples to talk about their feelings about the pregnancy loss. "Give them ideas of how to cope effectively, that what a miscarriage means is different things to different people," she advises.

Sometimes, it helps couples to have a ceremony or ritual to mark the loss -- just as you would a newborn that has died, Kaslow says. "You do grow attached to the fetus."

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