Miscarriage - What you should never say

Three quarters of women who have suffered a miscarriage have been left devastated after friends have tried to comfort them – with phrases such as ‘it wasn’t a real baby’ and ‘it’s nature’s way’, a study has found.

A poll of women who have lost a baby found many were left feeling anything but comforted after unintentionally thoughtless and even cruel comments from their loved ones.

More than a third were left devastated after being told ‘it wasn’t a real baby’ while 57 per cent had friends say the miscarriage meant there was something wrong with their baby.

Three quarters were also repeatedly told ‘it’s nature’s way’ with seven in ten admitting friends said ‘don’t worry, you can try again soon’.

The poll, by parenting site ChannelMum.com, even found 29 per cent of women have been told that it’s not so bad – because they already have another child.

Others were asked what they did to cause the miscarriage while one in five had friends tell them that at least it meant they knew they could fall pregnant.

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.”

Statistics show around one in six pregnancies ends in miscarriage – around a quarter of a million in the UK each year.

However, 76 per cent of women who’ve lost an unborn child say there is still not enough support for families going through the heartbreak.

Two thirds of those who miscarried said the most distressing aspect was that their baby wasn’t treated ‘like a real child’.

Six in ten wanted more mental health support while 65 per cent felt they were not given enough time to grieve by friends, family or work colleagues.

Worryingly, almost half of the 1,821 women polled wanted to talk to others about their miscarriage but didn’t feel able to, with 39 per cent believing baby loss is the final taboo in society.

Instead, 59 per cent of women attempted to struggle through the heartbreaking experience without any form of support while just 13 per cent had formal counselling.

Only three in ten talked openly about it with other parents.

Shockingly, a huge 98 per cent also claimed there is not sufficient miscarriage support for partners.

Almost a third want to see men-only counselling while 49 per cent want partners more involved in hospital care.

And although the majority of women praised overworked NHS staff, more than a quarter were placed on a hospital labour ward or around still-pregnant women while in hospital.

A further 35 per cent were ‘just processed through the system’ without any personal help.

As a result, 37 per cent went on to suffer mental health issues or depression following their baby loss, while a shocking one in ten even had suicidal thoughts.

Three in ten avoided visiting friends with new babies while 65 per cent were even upset seeing pregnant strangers.

The study also showed the most common way to get over losing an unborn baby is to try for another child immediately.

Three in ten couples did this, even though it goes against medical advice to wait three months.

A further 27 per cent waited the recommended three months before trying to fall pregnant again.

A fifth went on to name their lost child and ten per cent held a celebration of their child such as releasing balloons.

The research also revealed the most comforting words you can say to a mum who has just miscarried her child, with ‘your baby will always be with you in your heart’ and ‘even though it was early it was still your baby’ among the best things you can say.

Also helpful are ‘it wasn’t your fault’ and ‘I’m here if you want to talk’.

WHAT YOU SHOULD NEVER SAY1. It's nature’s way2. Don't worry. You can try again soon3. It means there was something wrong with your baby4. It wasn't a "proper baby"5. Everything happens for a reason6. It wasn't your time7. It's the best thing given the situation8. You'll be fine!9. Get over it10. In my day we just treated it like a heavy period and got on with it11. At least you know you can get pregnant12. What did you do to make it happen?

WHAT YOU CAN SAY1. Your baby will always be with you in your heart2. Even though it was early it was still your baby3. It wasn't your fault4. It’s s**t. It will be s**t for a long time but at some point, it won’t be quite as s**t5. I'm here if you want to talk about it6. I’m sorry for your loss7. It WAS a baby and it was loved8. Be kind to yourself9. It’s OK to cry10. It’s OK to be angry11. It’s OK to be sad12. I love you