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Where to Find Guidance and Support for Pregnancy Loss

By Carol Caffin
Reviewed by Jessie Everts, Ph.D.
October 06, 2023

Losing a pregnancy can be one of life’s greatest sorrows. Unfortunately, it’s also fairly common: As many as 26% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, which is defined as the loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks of gestation. After 20 weeks, a pregnancy loss is called a stillbirth, which affects about 1 in 160 pregnancies.

Despite how common it is, a pregnancy loss may leave you feeling alone or isolated. It’s also common to have a tidal wave of grief-related reactions, such as shock, denial, anger, guilt, bargaining, and depression.

Some people grieve in silence. Some hadn’t shared their pregnancy news with others yet. Others may feel they don’t have a right to grieve or that their grief is not as “real” as that of parents who have lost children after birth.

“The grief of parents who’ve suffered pregnancy loss is very real and can be devastating,” says Irena Milentijevic, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist who works with people who’ve suffered pregnancy loss in her private practice in Houston.

The intensity of grief, she says, is not necessarily related to type of loss or gestational age but to the level of attachment the parent felt toward their baby-to-be. “Even if the loss is early in pregnancy, the parents may have felt very connected,” Milentijevic says. “If you’ve waited a long time for this baby, if you’ve gone through fertility treatments, if you’ve seen the baby on an ultrasound, these are just some of the things that make the baby ‘real.’”

Finding Support After Pregnancy Loss

If you’ve suffered the loss of a pregnancy, you don’t have to grieve alone. There are many resources available to help you navigate your loss and all the ways it affects you.

If you’re not sure where to begin or how to decide which resources might be best, take an honest inventory of your needs, suggests Katie Dillard, of Frisco, Texas, a perinatal loss coordinator for Postpartum Support International and certified child life specialist and perinatal mental health professional who helps families through challenging health experiences and bereavement.

“Would you benefit from one-on-one counseling, or would you prefer to work through your grief as a couple? Would it be helpful to start out with a support group where you can listen to others before talking about yourself? Do you prefer a faith-based provider—or a person of color? Would you like to attend in person or virtually?” Dillard asks. “There are many platforms available.”

Here are some pregnancy loss resources to consider using to help you cope. And remember: There’s no one way to grieve, and there’s no one resource that is helpful to everyone. Try a few to see what seems like the best fit for you. “Keep searching for what works,” Dillard says.

Pregnancy Loss Support Groups and Organizations

Many organizations and groups nationwide offer support to people after a pregnancy loss. You may want to reach out to one or more of the following:

Postpartum Support International (PSI)

PSI was founded 35 years ago to increase awareness about the emotional changes and potential mental health issues experienced during and after pregnancy. It also provides a variety of information for those experiencing pregnancy loss and grief, including a support group, a directory of perinatal loss and bereavement coordinators, a mental health provider directory, and a downloadable perinatal mental health discussion tool to help you keep track of anxiety, depression, and other symptoms.

The Star Legacy Foundation

This national nonprofit organization, which has 20 chapters across the country, is dedicated to increasing awareness, offering support and information, conducting and supporting research, promoting education, and encouraging advocacy regarding stillbirth, pregnancy loss, and neonatal death. The website offers a wealth of information on different types of loss and a list of additional resources for everyone in the family who may be grieving, as well as self-care tips and more.

Share Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support

This national nonprofit organization, which has more than 75 chapters in 29 states, offers listings of local support groups around the country. Among the support groups is Share Español: Esperanza, which provides support for Spanish-speaking families grieving a pregnancy or infant loss. Share also has tips for planning a memorial service or funeral, events, and the opportunity to purchase a memorial brick that will be laid near the Angel of Hope Statue in St. Charles, Missouri.

Stillbirthday Global Network

This website provides a large directory of birth and bereavement doulas, professionals who are trained to provide support before, during, and after birth and for those who’ve experienced a loss.

Return to Zero: HOPE

This nonprofit offers a directory of national, local, and international groups that support bereaved parents, guidance for navigating loss, and holistic healing retreats. Its offerings include specialized help for grieving Black parents, including webinars, a BIPOC Growth and Healing After Pregnancy and Infant Loss Facebook group, and a Women of Color Virtual Support Group.

TFMR Mamas

For the families who’ve faced termination for medical reasons (TFMR), this organization offers a live monthly online support group, plus separate Facebook groups for those who identify as moms, as dads, and/or as LGBTQ+.

Cake

Named in the spirit of honoring life, Cake is for anyone interested in exploring mortality, grieving a loss, or facing end-of-life issues. It includes a library of articles on coping with pregnancy loss, helping a loved one through a loss, and remembering a pregnancy loss.

Books on Pregnancy Loss

There are numerous books that discuss loss from a variety of different perspectives. Here are five you may want to consider reading:

At a Loss: Finding Your Way After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Death
by Donna Rothert, Ph.D. (Open Air Books, 2019)

Written by a clinical psychologist who specializes in perinatal issues and who experienced two pregnancy losses, this inspirational and comforting book features 30 essays about navigating the thoughts, emotions, and experiences that can come with a loss.

You Are Not Alone: Love Letters from Loss Mom to Loss Mom
by Emily R. Long (Firefly Grace Publishing, 2016)

Think of this wonderful tome as a collection of warm, comforting, compassion-filled hugs from unknown friends who have felt what you feel.

All the Love: Healing Your Heart and Finding Meaning After Pregnancy Loss
by Kim Hooper and Meredith Resnick, L.M.S.W., with Huong Diep, Psy.D. (Keylight Books, 2021)

Combining Kim Hooper’s personal experience of four losses with the professional knowledge and expertise of two mental health practitioners, this book delves into different types of pregnancy losses and experiences and the emotions that come with grief.

Men and Miscarriage: A Dad’s Guide to Grief, Relationships, and Healing After Loss
by Aaron and M.J. Gouveia (Skyhorse, 2021)

Husband-and-wife authors draw from their own experience as well as interviews with others who’ve experienced pregnancy loss in this compelling read that examines how societal notions of masculinity have forced men who’ve experienced loss to stifle their grief and suffer in silence.

Something Happened: A Book for Children and Parents Who Have Experienced Pregnancy Loss
by Cathy Blanford (Centering Corporation, 2019)

With gentle, reassuring words and lovely illustrations, this book helps parents who’ve experienced pregnancy loss explain it to their young child (ages 2 to 6). It addresses a child’s sadness, fears, and confusion, and explains that they can go on while still remembering.

I Had a Miscarriage: A Memoir, a Movement
by Jessica Zucker, Ph.D.* (Feminist Press, 2021)

A psychologist who specializes in helping her patients navigate loss shares her own story of miscarriage as well as those of other women, making good on her mission to stop the silence, shame, and stigma surrounding pregnancy loss.

Podcasts on Loss

If you’d prefer to listen to a podcast about pregnancy loss, there are several that may help you cope.

Still a Part of Us

Parents share their personal stories of loss, including their pregnancy journey, the type of loss they’ve experienced, how they endured, and how they’ve navigated their emotions.

Sisters in Loss

Black women share their stories of grief and loss in this weekly podcast, and host Erica M. McAfee offers strategies and resources to help others heal, find hope, and move forward after a loss.

Men on Miscarriage

Tobias Haglund’s podcast features interviews focusing specifically on the journeys of men and discusses the experiences of husbands, partners, and fathers who’ve been affected by miscarriage.

Let’s Talk Miscarriage and Stillbirth

Discussions about all aspects of miscarriage and stillbirth, including emotional changes after pregnancy loss, saying goodbye, grieving, and healing, are part of this loss-specific podcast.

The Joyful Mourning

For women who’ve experienced pregnancy or infant loss, The Joyful Mourning features conversations with people who share their own experiences of pregnancy or infant loss and the ways they navigate grief.

*Disclosure: Jessica Zucker, Ph.D., the author of I Had a Miscarriage: A Memoir, a Movement, is a relative of Twill's chief medical officer, Murray Zucker, M.D.

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