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When your friend has a miscarriage, you don’t know what to do, even if you’ve been there before too. We know we can’t make it better, so we’re often left clueless, wondering what we could possibly do to provide miscarriage support.
But there are things you can do to provide support after miscarriage. Even though you can’t make things magically better, you can be present, lend a loving ear, and be thoughtful.
Trust me on this. I’ve had 4 miscarriages, counseled hundreds of women through loss, and I have helped support people who are learning how to help. These tips are a great place to start.
9 Ways to Provide Miscarriage Support
Even though you can’t make things better, you can help help a friend or family member feel loved following pregnancy loss.
In fact, these tips go beyond pregnancy loss–they’ll help you support women and men experiencing grief of any kind, although our examples are miscarriage specific.
1. Just do something
Don’t ask how you can help. A friend who’s experiencing a miscarriage is likely any combination of anxious, exhausted, angry, sad, and confused. Her body is going through hell and she does not have the mental or physical energy to figure out how you can help.
The best ways to provide miscarriage support don’t put that weight on your friend who’s miscarrying.
Need ideas for how to help?
(1) Drop something off or send a miscarriage gift. A few ideas:
- Comfort snacks
- A good book
- A miscarriage care package of super necessary things like giant maxi pads, heating pads, tissues, cookie dough (or is that just me?)
(2) Text a list of things you’ve enjoyed binge watching on Netflix or send a free Audible podcast or book download.
(2) If you want to ask how you can help, ask specific questions.
- “Are you set on supplies? I can Amazon over a heating pad, gatorade, whatever you need.”
- “Want me to send Chinese food to your house?”
When you’re providing miscarriage support, it’s less about what you do and more about the fact that you take the time to do something.
2. Imagine her needs over your own comfort
When you want to give support after miscarriage, try to imagine the miscarrying mama’s needs over your own.
Mental health is weird during grief, and often people find they need space and time to grieve. That’s why I often drop a pound cake and teddy bear at someone’s door, then send a text saying to check the front door when they have a minute.
Some people, though, feel isolated and want family and friends around, which you’ll find later helped me, even though I thought it wouldn’t.
For more extroverted friends, I deliver gifts personally, while I try to leave the introverts alone. Know your audience.
(3) Send something
Things to cuddle are good.
Miscarriage makes many women feel very empty, and I loved having things to hold while I curled into the fetal position and cried.
Every gift that arrived meant the world to me, no matter how large or small. What I loved most were receiving notes, or when people sent gifts that helped me remember my baby.
I loved these gifts because they had meaning.
An air plant my friend Ellen sent me as a sign of resilience.
Flowers that symbolized both life and loss from Jenn, Julia, Sarah, and Molly, all with notes and quotes from my favorite books and authors.
A gift card to my favorite meal delivery service from Tessa, and after more losses, art work she’d had created to honor my angel babies.
If you’re buying for someone who celebrates Christmas, check out our favorite miscarriage ornaments. Send a note to show support and provide much love during the next holiday season.
Can’t afford to send anything?
No worries. Send a note. Or texts, emails, and voice messages mean a great deal. Just don’t be surprised if your call gets sent to voicemail.
It’s all about acknowledgement, really. When you’re providing miscarriage support, acknowledging the loss is what matters most.
(4) Recognize the greatness of the loss
Acknowledge that this was a life, just far too short of one. This doesn’t have anything to do with being pro-life or pro-choice. It has to do with dreams.
Before your friend had a miscarriage, she imagined the life she was growing and what it would be like raising that child.
Even if it’s an early loss, remember that she just lost an entire lifetime that she’d dreamed of since the moment she learned she was pregnant. That’s a lot to grieve.
Follow the miscarrying mama’s lead, though.
While most women want you to recognize that this was her child, it helps some women not to think of their loss as the loss of a baby.
When providing miscarriage support, always follow the griever’s lead!
(5) Be comfortable talking about the baby
And the life the parents had imagined. This idea goes along with #4. Follow the parents’ lead (and be aware that the needs may differ between the two parents.) If they want to talk about the baby as a baby, then do it.
If they knew the sex, use the pronoun. If the baby had a name, use the name.
Meet your friends who had a miscarriage where they are on this – they may or may not want to talk about it.
But more often than not, all we want is for our experiences, and our babies to be acknowledged. It’s essential that we remember the importance of validating grief as we learn support others through loss.
(6) Ask practical questions
When helping a friend after miscarriage, ask how she is first. Remember, though, that everyone who knows of her loss asks how she is, and she likely thinks she’s supposed to say she’s okay.
Asking practical questions helps her imagine moving forward, and is an essential part of miscarriage support.
Here are some examples of the types of questions you can ask, depending on the circumstances.
(1) If she’s actively miscarrying:
- “When will you see your doctor next?”
- “How much time are you able to take off work?”
- “May I bring you some maxi pads/pain meds/heating pad/snacks/dinner?”
(2) If she has learned she’s lost her baby, but hasn’t actually miscarried yet:
- “What options has the doctor given you?”
- “It’s so hard to have to decide how to move forward. Do you want to talk through your feelings about the different options?”
- If she’s having a D&C, “Have you decided if you’ll test the tissue? Do you want to talk through your thoughts on that?”
Do you have no idea what I’m talking about? That’s okay! Check out the Frequently Asked Questions on the Miscarriage Association’s page.
Understanding some basics about what is happening will help you effectively provide miscarriage support.
(7) Continue to check in, in whatever way makes her comfortable
I liked texts bc I don’t like talking to people when I’m so sad.
When you ask how she is and she says “I’m okay,” know that she might not want to talk about it, but she also might feel guilty for wanting to keep talking about it.
Offer a follow-up. “I never want to make you dig into this if you don’t want to, but anytime you’re not okay, know that you can tell me. I don’t expect you to be okay right now.”
A big part of miscarriage support is being willing to listen. But like we said, follow the griever’s lead.
(8) Understand that she’s already thinking about it, so stop worrying about “reminding” her
As time goes on, don’t worry that you’re going to remind your friend of her miscarriage.
Continue to talk about the loss when it comes up organically.
Continue to use the baby’s pronoun or name if you have it.
The friend who had a miscarriage is always thinking about it, and it can be hurtful to feel like other people are tired of hearing about it just because it’s been a few weeks.
We get that your world is still turning, but we also want you to get that ours may not be.
(9) Remember the due date (put it in your calendar)
The day a lost baby would’ve been due is an incredibly hard day for your friend who had a miscarriage, even if she’s pregnant again.
She knows. She remembers. Her partner may not remember. Her parents may not remember. Her friends may not remember. And that hurts as much as anything. Remembering and acknowledging is the best miscarriage support.
How the hell can no one remember when I can’t forget?
You don’t need to do anything big that day, but do something.
Tell her you’re thinking of her and you love her.
Tell her you lit a candle in honor and memory of her baby.
Help her understand that, even a year or more in, you remember, you acknowledge her loss, and she is not alone in her grief.
Sometimes the Rules Don’t Apply When Providing Miscarriage Support
Isn’t that what this blog is about, anyway? Sometimes you know someone better than they know themselves. When that’s the case, go with your gut.
When Going With Your Gut is Best
I ignored every phone call, but responded to every text.
I was thankful for everything people sent, but I didn’t want to see anyone.
When my friend Mary texted to tell me she was walking up to my door, I felt defeated. I didn’t want to see her. I didn’t want to see anyone.
But then she came inside.
She gave me wrist bracelets for motion sickness because she knew I was still hovering around the toilet for a baby that was no longer living.
She brought me unisom to help with both nausea and sleep. “I know you can take better sleep meds than this right now,” she said, “but I also know you won’t. So take this.”
She brought Gatorade because blood loss is real and hydration is important–plus it’s all I’d been able to drink through the first trimester “morning” sickness.
She brought the latest issue of Cosmopolitan just to remind me of all the absurdity in the world–she wasn’t trying to make me laugh, but she reminded me there were still things to laugh at.
She provided amazing miscarriage support that also helped me decide how to move forward.
Talking About the Loss Can Be the Best Miscarriage Support
For me, talking about it with Mary helped me choose a path forward when what I REALLY didn’t want to do was choose. Because choosing meant it was all real.
Mary asked me questions about the choice I had to make. (To learn more about the options available, click here.)
I wanted to wait to miscarry naturally, but my doctor didn’t think that was good for my physical or emotional health.
I was afraid of medically inducing miscarriage–I’d heard too many horror stories about hemorrhaging in bathtubs. I was afraid of a D&C because surgery is so invasive and much more expensive.
Read more about my decision-making process in Section 1 of “Recurrent Miscarriage: What It Was Like Surviving the Darkness.”
These ideas had been spinning in my head, but getting them out led to a decision I felt comfortable with before Mary even left. Everything felt so out of control, and a D&C seemed controlled to me. I would know exactly when it would happen, that it would be performed by a doctor I trusted, that I would be anesthetized, what medication I would be prescribed for pain after, etc.
When Mary appeared at my door, I didn’t want to open it, but I needed to. I’m thankful she knew what needed when I didn’t.
What was the best thing anyone did to provide you with miscarriage support?
Other Miscarriage Posts
- What to say to someone who had a miscarriage
- Miscarriage jewelry & other gift ideas
- Miscarriage tattoo ideas
- Books about miscarriage
Rainbow Baby Posts
- What it means to be strong as a mother (and why you already are!)
- Inexpensive birthday party ideas for kids
- 2 year old birthday gifts
- Overcoming mom guilt
Katy Huie Harrison, PhD, is an author, mom, recurrent miscarriage survivor, & owner of Undefining Motherhood. She lives in Atlanta with her husband (affectionately known on the internet as “Husband,”) son (Jack), and dog (Charlotte). She believes our society puts too many expectations on women that make womanhood and motherhood restrictive. Her goal is to shift the paradigm about what it means to be a woman and mother, giving all women a greater sense of agency over their own lives. You can find Katy and her work featured in places like CNN’s Headline News, Romper, Scary Mommy, Demeter Press’s Motherhood and Social Exclusion, & more.