Two women in serious conversation.
By Naomi Swanson, MD

How to Support a Friend After Pregnancy Loss

Headshot Naomi Swanson.
Naomi Swanson, MD

Miscarriages can be devastating to expectant parents and their families. You likely know someone who has experienced pregnancy loss—one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage.

There’s often no identifiable reason for early miscarriage, which makes the loss even more difficult. It can be tough to find the right words to comfort a grieving mother and her partner in this difficult time.

Each person grieves differently. Some may be vocal, while others retreat. What’s important is that you are there for your loved one, listening and supporting her through kind actions.

To help you support your loved one, I’ve gathered some insights from my years as an Ob/Gyn. These insights are meant to be helpful tips, and not hard rules—you know your loved one best.

4 Ways to Show Your Support

1. Validate Her Experience

Pregnancy loss at any stage is difficult. Early miscarriages may happen before your friend announces her pregnancy—she may feel left to suffer in silence. Stillbirth signifies months of excitement leading to a devastating experience.

Acknowledge that your friend is struggling, and that she doesn't have to justify her feelings to anyone. Use the baby's name in conversation if she has shared it with you. Let your friend know you are there to listen and provide a shoulder to cry on.

2. Center the Conversation on Your Loved One

If you've suffered a pregnancy loss, you may be inclined to share your own experiences as a way to relate. However, this is her time. In most of your conversations, focus on her, her partner and their loss. Ask how she and her family are coping.

Your friend may ask how you felt during your experience. At that point, it's OK to share your story to help validate her emotions.

3. Help Her at Home

If your loved one isn't ready to talk, you can show support by taking care of day-to-day chores. Give her space to rest and heal by picking up groceries, doing laundry or taking care of her older children.

Provide specifics when you offer help—too many options can be overwhelming. For example, instead of asking if you can bring over dinner "sometime," say, "Can I bring over dinner on Tuesday evening at 6:00?"

4. Check in Regularly

Grief from a pregnancy loss can last weeks, months or years. There is no right or wrong length of time to grieve. Your loved one may have ample support in the immediate days after the loss. But with time, people may not check in as often.

Continue to reach out and offer your support. Some women appreciate gifts that honor their child on the anniversary of the loss—such as a necklace with the baby’s name on it, a religious token or a memory box.

3 Approaches to Avoid

1. Speaking in Clichés

It can be easy to fall back on familiar sayings, but some clichés can be immensely hurtful. I recommend avoiding the following:

  • “Everything happens for a reason.” To a grieving mother, a pregnancy loss is an immeasurable loss. Acknowledge that it happened and that there is no way to rationalized it. Instead, say that you care and will always be there for her.
  • “You can always get pregnant again.” For some women, this may be their last pregnancy. Do not make assumptions or talk about other pregnancies.
  • “It will get better.” Time may eventually soften grief, but the pain of a lost pregnancy never goes away. Stay in the now and focus on helping your loved one take each day one at a time.
  • “It was for the best.” Many miscarriages happen because of chromosomal problems—the baby may have had health issues if the pregnancy continued. However, grieving parents would rather have their baby in their arms at any cost.
  • "At least it was early." Grief over an early miscarriage should never be disregarded. Loss of a wanted pregnancy still hurts, no matter how early the loss occurred.

If you don’t know what to say, that's OK. Tell your friend, “I’m at a loss for words, but I am here for you.” Those simple words can be comforting to a struggling friend.


If you don’t know what to say, that's OK. Tell your friend, “I’m at a loss for words, but I am here for you.” Those simple words can be comforting to a struggling friend.

2. Giving Advice

You love your friend and may want to “fix” the situation. But there's nothing you actually can do to fix it. More than advice, your loved one needs comfort. Let her process her grief in the way she needs. Telling her to “cheer up” or “calm down” is not helpful.

3. Mentioning Fault or Cause

Miscarriages are more common than many people realize. There is almost never something a woman could have done differently to avoid pregnancy loss. Don't mention this concept unless your friend does. If she blames herself, reassure her that it wasn’t her fault. Remind her you are there for her and you know she’s hurting.

Looking Ahead After Loss

Some women may go on to have future pregnancies, eventually celebrating a rainbow baby—a child born after a miscarriage. Others may be unable or choose not to conceive again. Continue supporting and championing for your loved one, no matter what she chooses.

After miscarriage, it can take a while for life to return to normal. If your friend needs additional support, of if you yourself are struggling, help is available. Talk with your OB/GYN about local support services. Or visit the Grief Resource Center website, which offers workshops, programs and support groups for those experiencing loss.

It is normal to feel grief, sadness and anger after pregnancy loss. If you or a loved one are experiencing severe depression, call your OB/GYN. Call 505-272-2245 for an appointment.

We offer specialized women’s health care, grief therapy and more.

Categories: Women's Health