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Experiencing a pregnancy loss

8-minute read

If you feel overwhelmed or strong emotions mean you feel unsafe, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Key facts

  • Losing a baby at any stage of pregnancy can be devastating and it's important to give yourself time to grieve.
  • Everyone reacts differently to pregnancy loss — it's normal to feel a wide range of emotions, such as shock, anger, sadness, guilt or relief.
  • Pregnancy loss may affect your relationship with your partner.
  • The time it takes to feel ready for another pregnancy varies from person to person.
  • Seek counselling and support if you feel overwhelmed or your sadness doesn't fade with time.

Adjusting to a pregnancy loss

It can be deeply upsetting to lose a baby at any stage of pregnancy. Experiencing a miscarriage or stillbirth can be very traumatic and many parents will feel a sense of grief.

You might feel very alone — even though pregnancy loss is common.

Pregnancy loss can happen very quickly and it can take a while to make sense of what is happening. You will need to mentally adjust to life without the future you expected. You may grieve not just for the baby you've lost, but also for your sense of yourself as a parent and your plans and hopes for the future.

Everyone is different and there is no right or wrong way to grieve a lost pregnancy. It's important to give yourself time to grieve.

Feelings you might have

When you lose a baby, you might experience a wide range of emotions. You might feel numb at first or find it hard to believe it's true. You might go through anger, sadness and confusion. You might feel a sense of relief or acceptance.

You might also have physical symptoms including trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, headaches or find that you cry a lot. Many people say they feel guilty when they lose a baby, or they feel jealous and bitter. All these emotions are completely normal.

It can help to acknowledge all your emotions, but also to remember that these feelings won't last forever.

Some people don't feel better as time goes on. If it's getting harder to cope, it's important to seek counselling.

Finding out why it happened

It's natural to want answers about why your baby didn't survive. You might have tests to try to find the cause of the miscarriage or stillbirth, such as an infection, chromosomal abnormality or health problem. This information can help you in future pregnancies. However, in many cases, no explanation is found.

It's common to blame yourself — but in most cases there's nothing you should have done differently. Talking to a health professional can help you work through these feelings. Ask as many questions as you need to.

Partner grief

Sometimes, if a couple is busy dealing with the physical side of a pregnancy loss, the partner who is not carrying the baby might suppress their own grief. It might take quite some time for them to fully accept what happened, such as after another baby is born.

You and your partner might have different reactions to the loss. It's important to understand that you are grieving in different ways and to treat each other with respect while you're recovering.

Pregnancy loss can affect your relationship with your partner. Some couples feel closer after a loss, while others feel further apart. If your relationship is suffering, it's helpful to seek counselling.

Looking after yourself

Give yourself time to recover. It's a good idea to take time off work if you can.

It can be helpful to talk to family or close friends about what you're going through. Allow them to offer you help with day-to-day tasks, such as housework or grocery shopping.

Look after your health by getting plenty of sleep, eating nutritious food and doing some exercise. Mindfulness strategies can help if you're feeling anxious.

If you're struggling to cope, ask for help. You might want to join a support group and meet other people who have experienced pregnancy loss. You can also talk to your doctor or see a psychologist for counselling.

Dealing with social situations

You might find that reminders of your lost baby are everywhere. Mother's Day, Father's Day, family celebrations, your due date and the anniversary of your loss can be painful. Other people's baby announcements and pictures on social media may all trigger your sadness.

It's a good idea to be prepared in advance. You might choose not to go to social functions for a while, especially if you know other people will be there with their babies. Consider going on holiday at difficult times of the year or attending family functions for just a short time. It can help to remove yourself from social media for a while.

You might find it hard to deal with how other people react. They might not realise how painful it's been for you, or they might not talk about your loss because they think it will upset you. It can help if you are open and honest about how you are feeling. Be prepared for uncomfortable questions and have standard answers ready.

Older siblings

Remember that children grieve and deal with loss too. If you have other children, it's important to explain to them honestly what happened and to answer all of their questions openly, in an age-appropriate way. Family counselling can also help you talk through these emotions with your child/ren.

Trying for another baby

The time it takes to feel ready for another pregnancy can vary a lot from person to person.

Some people feel like they need to try for another baby as soon as possible. Sometimes, this is an attempt to make their sadness go away. However, most people find that becoming pregnant again doesn't take away their grief. It may be a good idea to give yourself time to grieve first.

It's best to wait until you've had a period before trying again.

It's normal to feel anxious during your next pregnancy. It's a good idea to talk your feelings through with your doctor or midwife, or see a psychologist, especially if you feel like your fears and worries are taking over.

Resources and support

  • You can talk to your doctor or midwife about where to get support. Your hospital may have a social worker or pastoral care worker you can talk to.
  • If you're struggling, ask your doctor to refer you to a psychologist.
  • SANDS Australia provides support for people who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth or newborn death. You can call them on 1300 308 307 — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • The Pink Elephants Support Network provides information and support for people who have experienced a miscarriage.
  • Grief Australia provides support and counselling for people grieving any type of loss.
  • If you feel depressed or anxious, call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 to talk to a counsellor.

If you feel overwhelmed, or strong emotions mean you feel unsafe, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: February 2023

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Need more information?

Pregnancy: miscarriage & stillbirth | Raising Children Network

Have you experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth? Find articles and videos about coping with the grief of losing a pregnancy or having a stillbirth.

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Death of a baby - Better Health Channel

Miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death is a shattering event for those expecting a baby, and for their families. Grief, relationship stresses and anxiety about subsequent pregnancies are common in these circumstances.

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Miscarriage, despite being common and widespread, can be a heartbreaking experience. A miscarriage is defined as the loss of a pregnancy up to and including 19 weeks gestation (a loss from 20 weeks on is defined as a stillbirth). One in five pregnancies end before week 20, with most of those losses occurring in the first 12 weeks.

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What is miscarriage? - Miscarriage Australia

Miscarriages are common experiences during pregnancy. In Australia, a miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks gestation.

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Unfortunately not all pregnancies are successful. Find out more on miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy and stillbirth and neonatal birth.

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COPE's purpose is to prevent and improve the quality of life of those living with emotional and mental health problems that occur prior to and within the perinatal period.

Read more on COPE - Centre of Perinatal Excellence website


A miscarriage is the loss of a baby, usually during the first three months or first trimester of pregnancy.

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Fathers and miscarriage

A miscarriage can be a time of great sadness for the father as well as the mother.

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What is a stillbirth?

The cause of a stillbirth is often unknown, but you can help to lower the risk. Learn about prevention, warning signs and giving birth to a stillborn baby here.

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Emotional support after miscarriage

It is important to know that there is no right or wrong way to feel after experiencing a miscarriage.

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Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

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