Men and Miscarriage. An often-hushed topic – especially for a man to share his emotions.
Miscarriage is traumatic for men as well as women. Of course, women endure the physical pain. Biologically, men can't experience the full impact of a miscarriage's crushing blow. But the mental pain is shared by both parents. Men are often the forgotten grievers and suffer their own difficulties following such tragedy. It’s a lonely experience.
Miscarriage is common, but it’s hard to say exactly how often it happens. This is because many miscarriages happen before a woman knows she’s pregnant. Around one in five confirmed pregnancies are miscarried. Miscarriage happens for many different reasons. I don't know why there's this stigma around miscarrying. Like fertility, no one really talks about it. Maybe people think it means something is wrong with them or that these problems make them seem weaker. But the truth is, it's not uncommon and sharing your story can make you feel really loved and supported.
Losing a baby though miscarriage, elective termination, stillbirth, childbirth, after a NICU stay, SIDS, or any other time is, without a doubt, one of the most difficult experiences that a parent will ever endure. It’s a cruel emotional rollercoaster – whether you were expecting to conceive or not. There are no words to explain the depth of anguish that a parent goes through when attempting to understand the shift that occurs when all hopes and expectations suddenly disappear. It is an experience that many will never need to make sense of and also one that many others will struggle through unexpectedly. It is tragic and totally and completely unfair and yet thousands upon thousands of families find themselves in this position.
My wife and I suffered through three miscarriages before we had Ezra. After the first one we didn't tell anyone. What followed was a deep sadness, neither of us had ever experienced. It was a unique sadness, in grieving for a loved one we never knew. The hurt was magnified by the fact that there was no funeral, no burial and no final resting place. We suffered in silence which was hard and unnecessary. By the time we had the third miscarriage we didn't hesitate to tell anyone. Naturally, the more people you tell, the more people are aware what you are going through and can give you support.
Initially, I was afraid to show hurt or sadness. I had a strong sense of vulnerability and powerlessness to help my wife. What I’ve learned is that it’s critical for men to get help, too. Not only is our own mental health at risk, the isolation can hurt our partners well-being and destroy our relationships.
You can’t focus entirely on your partner, it’s important that you take time to explore your own feelings too.
We need to make space for men to be upset about a reproductive loss. what matters is that couples are able to talk about the issue and that society at large grows more comfortable with men talking about it too.
Tune into what you’re going through and talk with your partner.
If you need to share what you’re going through, ask for the support of trusted friends and family.
Be kind to yourself. Give yourself permission to feel what you’re feeling. Grief isn’t a hurdle to get over or something that will go away if you ignore it. It’s an individual process that happens over time.
Make time to do enjoyable activities together with your partner or take some time out for yourself.
Focus on eating healthy and moving your body.
Say yes to practical help from others – you don’t have to go it alone.
If you or your partner feel you aren’t coping or are feeling depressed, you might need professional help. There are several organisations that provide support throughout Australia. Some of the main groups are listed below. If you or someone you know needs immediate help please call Emergency | 000 or Lifeline | 13 11 14
Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement (Free call Australia wide) 1800 642 066
Mensline is a professional telephone and online support and information service for Australian men. Call 1300 78 99 78, 24 hours / 7 days a week.
Menslink Supports young men (aged 10-25) in the Canberra region 02 6287 2226
Beyondblue Call 1300 22 4636, 24 hours / 7 days a week.