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What NOT to say to a woman after a miscarriage

Woman being consoled by her friend after a miscarriageOctober is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. We are sharing Nicole’s story to help raise awareness and recognise the importance of ongoing support for parents who experience the loss of a child.

“Let’s just clarify first of all, how much I hate the word MISCARRIAGE.

Do you know what the prefix ‘mis’ actually means? It means ‘ill’, ‘mistaken’, ‘wrong’, ‘wrongly’, ‘incorrectly’ or ‘negating’. None of these terms should be used to describe the loss of child.

And mis-carriage? Does this mean I carried the baby ‘incorrectly’? There is often no cause of a ‘miscarriage’ so why is it given such a negative label?

For the sake of this article, let’s call it an early pregnancy loss.

So, your sister, mother, daughter, partner or friend has experienced an early pregnancy loss and you want to know how you can help them.

Well the truth is, you can’t. You can, however, support them through this very difficult time in their life.

The list below will give you some idea of what NOT to say …

What NOT to say to someone who has experienced early pregnancy loss

1. “At least you know you can get pregnant”

As if to say I am lucky. At the time of a pregnancy loss, this provides no comfort for the mother. So many people said this to me and I just felt like ‘wow lucky me, I can get pregnant! I can’t keep it growing inside me but I can get pregnant’.

2. “It is really common, it happens to lots of women”

When someone’s mother dies, do you say to them, ‘It’s OK, it happens to everyone’? No you don’t, because everyone is different and everyone who loses a loved one will grieve that loss. This may happen to many women, but right now it is happening to me and I am really sad about it!

3. “It was only early in the pregnancy, it’s not like you lost a child”

Well actually it is exactly ‘like’ losing a child. As soon as you get that positive pregnancy test, you start to love that baby growing inside you and all your dreams and aspirations for that child start running through your mind. When the loss occurs, it is ‘like’ losing a child and all those dreams you had for them.

4. “You can try again one day”

Whenever I heard this piece of advice, a voice inside me screamed ‘But I don’t want another baby, I want this one!’. This woman you care about has just lost a baby, she is not thinking about replacing it. We are not talking about a car or a toy, it’s a child and a child cannot be replaced!

5. “Don’t worry, you’ll have a kid one day, they’ll grow up and you’ll forget this ever happened. You’ll be like me with a 19-year-old that won’t leave home!”

Yes, this was actually said to me and to make things worse, it was said to me by the nurse doing my blood test to check my pregnancy hormone levels, the day after my loss! I don’t even think I need to explain why this comment is unhelpful.

SUPPORT: Chat anonymously and support in our pregnancy loss support forum section

I lost a pregnancy and the grief has never left me. I tried to get back to my life as I knew it before I got that positive pregnancy test, but it is harder than I ever expected.

“The world around you moves on, as if your life was never shattered,
and all you want the world to do is say that your baby mattered.” (sayinggoodbye.org)

So how can you support your mother, sister, daughter, partner or friend during this time? The answer is actually really simple.

Give them a hug and hold them tight.

Tell them you are sorry for their loss and you are there for them.

Tell them to take their time because grief affects everyone differently.

Tell them the baby they lost does matter!

And let them cry, because they will, a lot and that’s OK. (I will be forever grateful to the people in my life who did this for me)

And don’t forget to give their husband or partner a cuddle, because they will be hurting too.

To my beloved family and friends who may have said one or two of these things to me, it’s OK. It has been a learning experience for all of us. But it helped me to write these words down so hopefully it helps someone who reads these words. And don’t worry, I remember a lot of the beautiful things that were said to me too.”

– Nicole x


– Thank-you to Nicole for sharing her story with us. xx

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13 Comments so far -
  • miracle4me says:

    Thank U Nicole 4 sharing Well written article. So sorry 4 your loss and what u had to endure but hopefully the words will save someone else from that treatment

    I found out the day of the 12 week scan my first child, we were so excited to finally get to see her at the obstetricians. I didn’t know foetus were supposed to move but the technician went to get the Dr . Dr came back to check heartbeart & told us. I’m not sure he was prepared for the loud scream of pain anguish but he just didn’t know what to say!
    Other than it must have been very recent, eg no Blood in uterus and they were trying to be very gentle to arrange for D &C . That was an entirely different thing. I did grieve I asked for the remains but was told I couldn’t so we made our own little service near a river with flowers . I made the terrible mistake of announcing it to my parents the night before the scan and that’s the 1st time I saw my DAD CRY. Everyone had expectations.
    I had very supportive friends some of whom also had experienced the loss years earlier so I guess they had 1st hand experience.

    Good news is I have 1 little girl after 4 years of IVF, some corrective surgery, numerous failed IVF attempts, 4 more early pregnancy loss. Feel so blessed

    • Hi miracle4me,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. And also a big thanks for sharing your story with us. Perhaps a lot of the time people make these comments because they haven’t had first-hand experience with miscarriage and infant loss and also because they haven’t heard stories like yours. Perhaps if we talked more about it people would be able to build some empathy.

      I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. You story is also a reminder that it isn’t just the parents who feel the loss of a child. The grandparents and other family members might also be grieving for the child they never had the chance to get to know.

      It is good to hear that you were surrounded by supportive friends during this time. It is also great to here that you have been blessed with your little girl.

      Wishing you all the best xx

  • Jblurberry says:

    I lost a baby in 24 weeks pregnant. He was already a little boy when he was born. I was so sad, life turned upside down, and I always tried to remember what I did wrong the day before! I was part time so had to take 2-3 months off because I was not able to moving forward. I returned to work for another 6-9 months then I quitted.
    After a year I got a beautiful daughter, am always think it’s hers brother who bring her to our family. My grieving for the lost of our son is still there. We remembered him when the date he came to this world. Still, he is forever in my memory.

  • Tea says:

    I can appreciate everything you have said however I never felt these things with my miscarriage. I had those things said to me and the truth is I just understood that sometimes people try and help and not really sure what to say. Also I did feel that the pregnancy after the miscarriage remedied the miscarriage itself. I also did feel that it wasn’t as bad because it was an early miscarriage rather than a late one. Also it comforted me to know it happened to lots of women because it made me feel like I wasn’t alone or that something was wrong with me. People deal with things differently and so for me having these things said didn’t bother or upset me at all.

    • Blossom says:

      I feel it is important for the lady who has suffered the loss to be able to talk about and for a relative or friend to be supportive. One of the best things to say is, if you need somebody to talk to that you are there to support her. The man may need another guy to talk to as well. They are probably feeling very emotional too.

    • Hi Tea,
      Thanks for sharing your experiences with us – you’re right, everyone is different. I guess the best advice is to just listen and be there for a friend and support them in the way they’d appreciate. thanks again xx

  • Gidget says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss Nicole. I have had three baby losses and it is by far the most lingering pain I had ad to endure (and I have had to endure a lot in my life which I won’t go into here). The thing that people say to me that really gets me is, “There is other things in life than having children”, and of course they always have children!
    Very well written and thanks for sharing, hugs xxx

  • Kelly says:

    My mother in-law said “Well at least you hadn’t felt it kick.” That has been 20 years ago, I will never forget it. I wish she had just sat quietly with me.

  • DJ says:

    I had one of the principals I worked for said “It’s nature’s way of taking care of a mistake. The other principal I worked for had hand picked flowers from his yard and had them on my desk when I came in one morning after. So thank God for him.
    Basically no one said anything. It took my 3 years to be able to even get a work out about it, I literally choke up if I tried.
    Why society can’t get it in their mind that it is a loss and a death of a child which is the worst thing a parent can ever experience.
    I will never forget my 2 babies and I’ll hold them in heaven.

  • Wanda says:

    Yes nilly all of the above was said to me. I could of throttle them. My experience with the doctor was the most horribilst i have ever heard, as friends tell me there storie of their loss’s. I have tried for more then 22yrs to get over my lost child. I will say it dose get easier put the pain of it all, stays with me in my every day life. I truly sorry for your loss.

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