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Healthcare and social support for male partners at time of miscarriage is inadequate, research has revealed.

An Australian study, led by Monash University’s Dr Jade Bilardi from the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre and University of Melbourne’s Professor Meredith Temple-Smith from the Department of General Practice, explored male partners’ experiences of miscarriage. The results showed most men felt a gross lack of support and acknowledgement of their loss as a father, compared to their female partner.

The key findings that arose from the study included:

  1. Men feel the loss too: Men reported significant grief following miscarriage: feelings of sadness, anger, devastation, shock and powerlessness were common.
  2. Men feel the need to be the ‘supporter’: Men felt it was their role to support their partner and be ‘strong’ and ‘stoic’, putting their emotions aside. But they often didn’t know how to best support their partner.
  3. Hiding their emotions: Men often hid their emotions for fear of making it harder on their partners. This often left them feeling isolated and alone, not knowing what to feel or how to deal with their emotions.
  4. No acknowledgment of their loss and little support: Men’s isolation was only exacerbated by a lack of recognition and understanding from others. Men particularly struggled to find support and understanding among their male friends.

Men suggested a number of ways support could be improved:

  1. Acknowledge their loss too: Men want others to understand and show acknowledgment of their loss as fathers.
  2. To talk to others about their loss: Men found it helpful to talk to others about their loss: including mental health professionals, pregnancy loss organisations and online support networks. Here they could share their story and get the support they needed.
  3. More support for men: Men want male-orientated information, support networks and resources tailored to their needs. Men showed a clear preference for credible online information, support and professional assistance.

 The authors stressed that a failure to acknowledge men’s grief, and include them in the discussion will only continue to perpetuate men’s feelings of being a ‘passenger’ in their own experience of pregnancy loss. It’s vital that the silence and stigma around miscarriage ends and improved support is provided to assist both men and women with their loss around miscarriage.