What Not to Say to Someone After a Miscarriage and Infertility

8 Things You Should Never Say + 3 Things You Should

A woman comforts her sad friend
Pregnancy loss can be devesting after infertility. Be careful not to say something that may make your friend feel worse. Image Source / Getty Images

Pregnancy loss is heartbreaking for those who conceive relatively quickly and easily. For those that have been trying to conceive for a long time – especially after fertility treatments – the loss can be devastating.

Miscarriage after IVF may mean a loss of thousands of dollars and, possibly, the potential to try again.  Many do not receive insurance coverage for expensive fertility treatments. It’s not uncommon for a couple to have only enough money to try once or twice.

You’d think people would understand the need for sensitivity and support. I’m sure most mean well, but the wrong words get said way too often. I’ve even heard some of these wrong words come from fellow infertility survivors

If you have a friend or family member who has experienced a miscarriage after infertility, do NOT say these 8 things.

"At Least You Know You Can Get Pregnant."

If a person has been trying for years to conceive, getting pregnant and then losing the baby is not reassuring.

If anything, it may increase their anxiety about conceiving again. No one going through infertility is naïve about the risk of miscarriage, but until they experience a pregnancy loss, it’s nice to hold onto the idea that if they just could get pregnant, they could have a baby.

Now, they aren’t just worried that they’ll never get pregnant – they’re worrying that even if they get pregnant, they may not give birth to a healthy baby.

"At Least You Experienced Pregnancy."

I’ve seen this sort of comment on fertility support forums. It’s not a supportive thing to say.

Getting pregnant is not the goal. The goal is to actually have a baby and parent that child.

"Now You Know What to Do to Get Pregnant. Go Do It Again!"

If only things could be so simple...

I imagine people say this thinking they are being funny. Or maybe encouraging. It’s not funny or encouraging.

By saying this, you’re implying that this entire time, the problem was the couple didn’t know how to get pregnant. Like they were missing some sort of skill or knowledge. Or some magic formula.

Fertility and pregnancy don’t work like that.

There are no guarantees for anyone. Even if you try IVF with an egg donor – the treatment with the highest success rate – you are not guaranteed a baby.

Plus, let’s say IVF is what finally got them pregnant. They may not have the funds to even try again. That’s not even taking into account the emotional and physical stress an IVF cycle puts a couple through.

"I Guess God / Mother Nature Decided You Weren’t Ready for This Baby."

Do not try to speak for God or Mother Nature.

While some people find comfort in religion or spirituality, this is something that must come from within to be effective. Hearing it from someone else is almost always painful.

"Don’t Overreact. You Lost a Pregnancy, Not a Real Baby."

I actually had someone say this to me.

While few people reach the low-life level of this particular person, dismissing the grief that can follow a pregnancy loss is common.

For many women struggling to conceive, just seeing the second pink line on a pregnancy test is enough to already feel connected to the potential baby developing inside.  

The emotional bond between mother, father, and child begins the moment they find out they are expecting.

The mother and father may start imagining what they will name the baby, whether they think it’s a boy or girl, and how they want to decorate the nursery. Some will even go out and buy a little toy or outfit early in the pregnancy, as a way of making the experience real.

They bond strongly with the dream of a child. To lose that dream is to lose a baby... not “just” a pregnancy.

"You Were Just Too Stressed Out. That’s Why You Lost the Baby."

Repeat after me: stress does not cause miscarriage. Stress does not cause miscarriage.

It’s completely normal to be worried about the pregnancy after struggling with infertility. Early pregnancy after fertility treatment is often more medically stressful, too, as there may be more scans and blood work checking that the pregnancy is developing normally.

Don’t blame their stress on their loss. It’s untrue and so hurtful.

"Did You Eat a Lot of Spicy Foods? Were You Exercising Too Much? Were You Working Too Hard Again?"

In other words, what did you do to cause this to happen?

Don’t try to blame their loss on their actions.

First of all, it’s extremely unlikely that anything they did caused the miscarriage. Pregnancy loss – especially early pregnancy loss – is common even for those that aren’t facing infertility.

Most commonly, early pregnancy loss is due to a chromosomal defect that existed the moment fertilization took place. Nothing the mother did after could have prevented or caused the loss.

People tend to use blame to make themselves feel safer. “They lost their pregnancy because of XYZ, so as long as I don’t do XYZ, I won’t miscarry.”

I’m sorry to say it doesn’t work like that.

Drop the blame.

What You Should Say

I’m so sorry.

I’m here for you.

How can I help?

Seems too simple? No. Not at all.

Sometimes, the simplest statements of support are the most perfect.

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