Pregnancy loss, miscarriage or still birth

Support after traumatic birth, miscarriage or stillbirth

Pregnancy loss can be an extremely distressing experience and affects parents in different ways. Previous pregnancy loss can increase anxiety levels in subsequent pregnancies.

Healthcare professionals can play a vital role with compassionate communication and use of sensitive language to improve the overall experience of bereaved families.

As a professional, offer advice and support to women who have had a traumatic birth, miscarriage or loss and want to talk about their experience.

Also take into account the effect of the birth or miscarriage on the partner and encourage them to accept support from family and friends.

If a baby is stillborn or dies soon after birth, discuss with the mother, her partner and family, the option of one or more of the following:

  • Seeing a photograph of the baby

  • Having mementos of the baby

  • Seeing the baby

  • Holding the baby

This should be facilitated by an experienced practitioner and the mother, her partner and family should be offered a follow-up appointment in primary or secondary care.

If it is known that the baby has died in utero, this discussion should take place before the delivery, and continue after delivery if needed.

For recommendations on treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a traumatic birth, miscarriage or stillbirth see section on PTSD, birth trauma and tokophobia.

Useful websites

Below is a list of useful websites for women and families with experience of pregnancy loss, miscarriage or still birth.

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Resources for Healthcare Professionals

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