Despite this, miscarriages are still stigmatised. It’s a difficult topic of conversation, and reactions from friends and family can be tactless and insensitive due to a lack of understanding.
According to a new study, two thirds of women who have miscarried said the most distressing aspect was that their baby wasn’t treated “like a real child” when they broke the news.
Most women have faced insensitive comments when loved ones tried to soothe the pain, even hearing phrases like “it’s nature’s way”, the ChannelMum.com survey found.
Three quarters of women who suffered a miscarriage were also repeatedly told “don’t worry, you can try again soon”. This is probably the last thing heartbroken parents want to hear, and pressures them to try again for a baby immediately.
When somebody close to you experiences baby loss, it can be hard to find the right words to say. The last thing you want to do is upset them more, so these are some things that you should never say to someone who’s had a miscarriage:
“It’s nature’s way.”
This implies that the baby was supposed to be lost. It’s tactless, and harks back to a survival-of-the fittest attitude.
“Don’t worry. You can try again soon.”
This is inaccurate: doctors recommend parents wait at least three months until they try for a baby after a miscarriage. It also suggests that the lost baby is somehow “replaceable”.
“It means there was something wrong with your baby”
This is just offensive and unhelpful.
“Everything happens for a reason.”
Probably well-intentioned, but again unhelpful. A miscarriage is not “supposed” to happen; it’s not fate.
“You’ll be fine!”
After losing a child, the last thing the parents will be feeling is “fine”.
“In my day we just treated it like a heavy period and got on with it.”
This is deeply insensitive.
Of course, there’s no one “right” thing to say to someone who has suffered a miscarriage, but there are things you can say that won’t offend, and might even provide a little comfort.
Researchers at ChannelMum.com found the most comforting words you can say to a mum who has just miscarried are: “Your baby will always be with you in your heart’ and “even though it was early it was still your baby.”
These words are also ok to say:
“It wasn’t your fault.”
“I’m here if you want to talk about it.”
“I’m sorry for your loss.”
“It WAS a baby and it was loved.”
“Be kind to yourself.”
“It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to be angry. It’s OK to be sad.”
Reminding them how much you love them and care about them also helps.
Siobhan Freegard, founder of ChannelMum.com, said: “The majority of women suffer at least one miscarriage and many have several, so why is it still so hard to talk about openly?
“We talk about ‘losing a child’ but the parents will always keep the pain of that loss with them – and many need to talk about it to help heal.
“It’s worth remembering words are powerful so choose yours carefully. The wrong phrase, particularly one which belittles the loss or apportions blame – can be devastating.
“But a few well-chosen and thoughtful words can set a mum on the road to recovery.”