Talking to Children About Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss

Age-Appropriate Ways to Explain Pregnancy Loss to Your Children

Mother and boy play in the playground
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When miscarriage strikes, sometimes the hardest people to talk to about it are your other children. Depending on the age of your children, whether you told them about the pregnancy or not, you may need to say something -- and even as the parent, it might be hard to figure out what that is. Here are some things to keep in mind when talking to your other kids about a miscarriage or stillbirth.

Older Children

If your other children are teenagers (or preteens), the best thing to do is be upfront and explain what happened in terms that they can understand.

Reassure them that you are fine and that the miscarriage or stillbirth does not mean anything is wrong with you; let them know that these things just happen sometimes. Talk about the reasons why miscarriage and stillbirth happen, and explain that nothing could have been done differently to prevent the loss.

Recognize that your older children may grieve the loss of the baby along with you. The baby you lost was your older child's brother or sister, and he or she may feel a sense of loss when hearing the news of the miscarriage.

Younger Children

For younger children, if you told them about the pregnancy before the loss, you will need to explain that something happened. Again, be sure to use words they understand. Young children might not understand words like "miscarriage" and might need explanations in simpler terms.

If your children are too young to understand the concept of pregnancy, or if you did not tell your children about the pregnancy, you may choose not to divulge information about the miscarriage.

Remember, though, that children tend to pick up on the emotions of the adults around them, so try to be understanding if your young children act more clingy or upset than usual. They may be picking up on the fact that you feel sad, in which case you may need to give them some sort of explanation.

It's Not Their Fault

If your children are old enough to understand that you are sad, whatever explanation you choose, be sure to emphasize that it is not their fault .

Explain that Mommy (or Daddy) is sad because of missing the baby and not because of anything they did, and reassure your children that you love them. Answer any questions your young children have about what happened.

In its pamphlet on talking to children about miscarriages, the U.K.-based Miscarriage Association suggests that some parents use the analogy of pregnancy being like planting seeds in a garden -- only some go on to grow into full plants. Others simply say that the baby wasn't growing properly or it couldn't stay in Mom's tummy, and leave it at that. Remember that you may not need to go into great detail with young children.

Encourage Family Activity

Regardless of your children's age, consider doing something together as a family to formally say goodbye to the baby. Have a burial or plant a tree. Or, if you are religious, use a tradition meaningful in your faith.


A few books exist to help discuss the subject of pregnancy loss with younger children:

  • Molly's Rosebush, by Janice Cohn and Gail Owens, targets children ages 4 to 7 and offers an anecdote in which a young girl named Molly is sad about her mother's miscarriage, but the family works through their grief together and plants a rosebush.
  • We Were Gonna Have a Baby, But We Had an Angel Instead, by Pat Schwiebert and Taylor Bill,  is a 24-page picture book that aims to help parents explain pregnancy loss to children.


American Pregnancy Association, "Supporting Friends and Family Through a Miscarriage Loss." Mar 2005. Accessed 13 Jan 2008.

Miscarriage Association, "Talking to Children About Pregnancy Loss." Accessed 13 Jan 2008.

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