#Miscarriage is defined as the unintended termination of pregnancy that occurs prior to 20 weeks of gestation. Whereas, stillbirth is the death of the fetus after 20 weeks or after reaching 400 g in weight.
15–50% of all pregnancies every year are affected by pregnancy loss. The majority of a miscarriage occur before a pregnancy is formally recognized. In 2015, 2.6 million babies were stillborn.
Pregnancy researchers as well as pregnancy loss are mostly focused on women's mental health and wellbeing. Therefore, a few studies have considered the impact of pregnancy loss on the health and well-being of men. So what are the men's feelings and perceptions after a miscarriage?
Usually, men feel as though they need to take on a supporter role for their female partner which may come at the expense and consequences of their own health and wellbeing. Moreover, loss of identity related to both the anticipated father role, and the grief or loss associated with the changes which may come after a pregnancy loss, are some of the feelings men go through. Loss can lead to helplessness, marginalization and the feeling of being alone in their grief.
After a miscarriage, the feelings of men are quite similar with those of women, however their behaviors and manifestations are different. The socio-cultural belief is that men may be less willing to communicate. Men also do not fully disclose their feelings and the challenges they face as they do not want to appear weak or vulnerable.
It is important to acknowledge the impact that avoidance and coping behaviors may have on men and their partners as a result of a pregnancy loss. These behaviors may include focusing on work as a distraction, and increasing risk behaviors such as excessive alcohol consumption, smoking and drug intake. These avoidance and coping behaviors may exacerbate the experience of the loss and lead to relationship breakdowns and prolonged grief.
Further research is needed on men’s experiences of pregnancy loss, focusing on cultural differences. Moreover, the experience of gay and/or transgender men who face pregnancy loss, which has been overlooked, should be considered and studied in future research.
Source: The impact of pregnancy loss on men’s health and wellbeing: a systematic review
Due et al. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth (2017)