Q&A: How do I help my partner cope with the loss of our baby?

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Karin Steyn (counselling psychologist & hypnobirthing practitioner) answers:

I am so sorry for your loss. I am relieved to see that both you and your partner are actively mourning this loss, as this is a healthy and necessary step to healing and moving on with your lives in the future. Give your boyfriend some time and space to process this loss in his own way, but also try to keep the lines of communication and interaction open between you.

Many people don’t even acknowledge their losses when it happens in the first trimester, or allow the miscarriage to ruin their relationship, and I do not think this is healthy. Perhaps the two of you could think about the expectations you had started to create when you learnt about the positive pregnancy, because that is where the loss lies. You could also choose a name for the baby and write a farewell letter to this child where you say goodbye in your own way. Children do not have to be born alive or have been in our lives forever to have touched our lives in a meaningful way. It would be good to review how this baby, although only consciously present in your lives for such a short time, has influenced your lives and your relationship and give thanks for this experience and opportunity and all that you have gained (not only lost).

I know that many women feel such disappointment in their bodies and themselves for not being able to carry the pregnancy successfully to the end, but I also know that taking this personally will not help. We do not always understand why a miscarriage takes place, especially when we have been able to have babies with relative ease prior to this pregnancy. Frequently, a miscarriage is nature’s way of ensuring that the babies that are born will be more healthy and able to live a quality life. Perhaps the two of you could use this opportunity to reflect on your desire to be parents together and bring another child into this world, and then plan it proactively. Planned pregnancies are easier to monitor as you are able to take the steps even before the pregnancy to ensure that you are in good health, and create the conditions for optimum fertility.

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