Deciding how and when to tell the people around you is up to you, but the very real grief following a pregnancy loss is not something you should go through alone.
Identify who you may want or need to tell about your pregnancy loss
Initially, you’ll want to tell the people who will be there to help you get your immediate needs met. For example, you might tell your partner or supporter who will accompany you to a doctor’s visit or procedure, and you might reach out to your manager to let them know that you need to take a sick day. Then, you might want to start extending the news to other friends and family members who can be your support system through this experience. If it feels like no one will say the right thing or that telling anyone will make you feel mad, sad, or overwhelmed, it’s a clue that you need some more time to process the experience internally. It may also mean that a support group, therapist, or more objective supporter could be a good place to start.
Then determine how you want to communicate to each person
How you tell the people around you will vary based on the relationship and how much you’re able to tolerate at the time. If you don’t want to answer any questions, you can stick to a simple text message. If you think you’ll find comfort in hearing their voice and reaction, then a call may be a good idea. A group text is also something you can do if there’s a group of people that you feel safe with. You can tell them what happened and what you need from them. You don’t have to have individual conversations with every person in your life. Just remember that you have a choice in how you navigate this. Keep asking yourself what is most helpful for you and know that this can change day to day and with each interaction.
Deciding when is right for you, based on relationship and needs
When it comes to timeline, it’s about what’s right for you and the relationship. You can tell your immediate support people right there in the doctor’s office because you may need someone to take you home or take care of your kids. For everyone else, it could be days or even weeks later. One helpful exercise is to imagine telling someone then sit with the reaction you think you’ll likely get. Do you feel comfort, or do you feel dread and know their reaction won’t be something that serves you? If it’s not going to be helpful, put it off or delegate telling that person to someone else in your life. All that matters is that you’re taking care of yourself.
If you haven’t announced the pregnancy
It’s common (and often even encouraged) in American culture to wait until you’ve passed the 12-week mark to tell people you’re pregnant. This means you may be in a position where you’ve experienced pregnancy loss but no one actually knew you were pregnant. This can make you feel isolated or alone in this experience, and you may not know how to tell people or if you should talk about it. If you’re feeling this way, that is totally normal. So many people have a sense of dread that they have to deliver two big pieces of news — that they were pregnant in the first place and that they lost the pregnancy. You don’t have to deliver both pieces of news. Just say you’ve had a pregnancy loss and they will connect the dots. Lead with the pregnancy loss.
COPY & PASTE: If you haven't announced the pregnancy
“I recently lost a pregnancy/had a miscarriage, and even though I hadn’t announced the pregnancy yet, I wanted you to know. I want to talk about this with you more later, but right now what I need is…”
If you have announced the pregnancy
If you’ve shared the news — especially if it was met with happiness and celebration — you may be dreading the reaction of the people around you. Know that your support people may not know what to say and oftentimes inadvertently say the wrong thing. It can be helpful to lead with what you need by telling them whether you’re ready to talk or if you need some space.
COPY & PASTE: If you have announced the pregnancy
“I wanted to share with you that I’ve had a miscarriage. We are in the place of processing and I’m feeling X. I’m not ready to talk about it, but when I am, I’ll follow up with you.”
How to navigate social media and pregnancy loss
When it comes to social media, navigating a pregnancy loss can be a challenge. Give yourself permission to take this day by day. You may have put a pregnancy announcement out there and feel the need to let people know you are no longer expecting. But ask yourself: What would happen if you didn’t follow up? If people are wondering, they can always follow up with you personally. You may feel pressure to do or say something on social media, but doing nothing in social media is also an option.
If you do want to follow up, take some time to get a sense of what you want out of the post. What are the responses that you’re looking for? People will comment and ask questions, so if there are things that you don’t want to deal with, you may want to include that in your post. If you are worried about comments, you can always turn them off. You can also have your support person filter responses or comments that you know you don’t want to see.
COPY & PASTE: Posting on social media about your loss
“We’re sad to announce that we’ve had a miscarriage. We’re not ready to talk about the specifics of what happened or hear hopeful words about the silver lining quite yet...”
How to tell someone you’ve experienced a pregnancy loss
Below are two examples that you can copy and paste or use as a starting point and modify. Both fit the same basic formula: Share the news: "We got some hard news today and found out we had a miscarriage." Briefly communicate how you are doing: "I'm feeling sad and moving towards acceptance." Express need: "I will reach out when I'm ready" or "We would love it if you could watch the kids tonight."
COPY & PASTE: How to tell someone you experienced loss
- “We got some hard news today and found out we had a miscarriage. I’m feeling really stunned and sad, so I’m going to take some space for a while, but I hope to have a longer conversation about it soon when I feel ready.”
- “There's no easy way to say this, but I wanted you to know I had a miscarriage. I'm still processing things and I’m not sure exactly how I feel. Would you be able to watch the kids tomorrow while I take a day to myself?”
Delegate the communication to a trusted partner, friend, or family member
You may not feel ready to communicate with people about a pregnancy loss. That is totally normal, valid, and natural. One good option is to delegate the communication to a trusted friend, partner, or family member. They can let your network know what happened and communicate that you will reach out when you’re ready to talk. That way, you won’t be inundated with calls or texts.
COPY & PASTE: How to delegate communication about your loss
“We got some hard news today and found out we had a miscarriage. I wanted to share this with you and hope to have a longer conversation about it when I feel ready. Until then, would you be open to sharing this news with XYZ? This would really help me feel taken care of right now. Please let them know what has happened and that I will reach out when I'm ready.”
Communicating about showers, births, and pregnancy announcements
If you’ve recently had a pregnancy loss, you may feel intense pain or sadness when you think about anything related to pregnancy, birth, or parenthood. Creating both healthy boundaries and open spaces for grief can help with recovery. If invitations or news related to pregnancy come up, you can share as little or as much as you want to.
COPY & PASTE: Opting out of events
“I’m so happy for you, but I’m not quite ready to attend this yet because of my recent pregnancy loss. As much as I want to be there for this event, I’m not quite there yet. I hope you understand, and I’ll follow up when I’m ready.”
Communicating with work
Some companies offer bereavement days for pregnancy loss, so you may be able to lean on existing benefits. If you’re not sure or your workplace doesn’t have a plan in place for pregnancy loss, here are some tips for approaching the conversation.
First, determine how much information you want to share with your direct manager. Keep in mind that you do not need to share more than you feel comfortable with. It could be as simple as sharing that you have a medical concern or had a procedure that will involve you needing to take X days off of work. You can always start the conversation there and share more with your boss when and if you are ready. If you have an ally or close friend at work, it can be helpful to create a game plan with them. This can mean brainstorming language for this conversation or delegating tasks off of your to-do list, so you can take the time you need to be completely off from work as you move through your recovery.
COPY & PASTE: Communicating with work
- “I wanted to share that I have to undergo a surgical procedure this week. I need to take X days off while I recover. I’ll be back in the office on X date.”
- “I wanted to share the news that I experienced a miscarriage, and I’d like to know the options available to me for taking some time off to recover.”
Sharing the news with other children
If you have other children, you still need to care for them and include them in the healing process. Books can often be a helpful way to explain loss to children and facilitate tough conversations. You can find book recommendations below from bereavement doula Erica McAfee to help children cope with the loss.
Children Ages 1-5
Children Ages 6-10
Children Ages 11-17
Explore our hub on pregnancy loss here.