My Family's Emotions
How is my partner likely to feel?
Partners can also be impacted by ectopic pregnancy. As well as trying to process what has happened for themselves, they can at the same time, be trying to provide you with support after seeing you go through such a physical and emotional ordeal.
Your partner may or may not have connected with the pregnancy. They may be trying to deal with their own emotional response to the loss of the pregnancy and witnessing your physical and emotional trauma. For some, a partner’s focus may be on you rather than the lost pregnancy and this may be a point of disagreement. Sometimes your partner may find it difficult to understand your feelings and you may think that your partner is not supporting you in the way that you would like. Partners can try to “fix things” or they may want to avoid talking about what has happened or bringing up the painful topic. This is not because they do not care but rather that they want to “make things better”. With much of the focus being on you, they can also feel left out and ignored. Partners can also experience psychological difficulties after ectopic pregnancy such as PTS.
It is important that, when you feel able to, you talk to your partner both about your feelings and theirs. You can help your partner by reassuring them that when you talk to them about the ectopic pregnancy, you do not need them to try and fix it – you just need them to listen and support you.
How will my other children feel?
Children can sense when the person they are used to caring for them is distressed or upset. Very young children may not have the words to express what they are feeling and their actions might signify that they sense an overwhelming experience has occurred. Older children who understand the condition may worry for their parents’ well-being. These complex reactions can be faced with honesty and providing children with an age-appropriate explanation about what has happened, along with plenty of reassurance through words, actions, and lots of gentle hugs.
How will my parents feel?
Parents often worry for their children and they may have a desire to try to “make things better”. This can sometimes show by a parent trying to change the focus or conversation to other topics.
Being honest with people around you and communicating how you would like them to respond to you can help to reduce confusion. Making it clear what kind of support you need can help to equip your wider family members about how they can try to best support you.
My child has had an ectopic pregnancy. How can I support them?
We often hear about parents’ concerns for their child who is experiencing an ectopic pregnancy and their partner, if they have one. We are asked how they can support and this is very individual to each family. At the heart, it is about being there for your child, listening to what they express and their wants and needs in their own words, and responding to them. At the same time, parents must take care of themselves too. Self-care is just as important to be able to help others. Often simple acts of kindness and letting your child know you are thinking of them can help. While some of the items in the links below are practical things to do, just being open to listen should not be underestimated.
Societal and cultural considerations
Societal norms can influence our behaviours around grief. There sometimes tends to be the idea that pregnancies are not announced until the three-month mark. This can mean that people around you may not have known about your pregnancy and the first time they hear about it might be when you choose to inform them of your loss. Also, there can be taboos around talking about sex and fertility including menstrual cycles and the reproductive system. These can make talking about pregnancy loss and its impacts all the more difficult. Whoever you choose to share your experience with is your decision and it is important to confide in people who you trust, with whom you can have an open conversation, and can explore supporting you in the way in which you wish. Please also bear in mind that our support services are open to all.
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LGBT+ partners, co-parents, and family members
LBGT+ partners may have feelings of helplessness, anger, and sadness and think that there is nothing they can do to help after your ectopic pregnancy loss. If your partner is a non-biological parent to be, they may feel they do not deserve to feel their grief, or that they have not suffered as painful a loss as you, as they are not part of that baby’s genetic makeup. If you are a partner who is the biological parent, but not the gestational carrier (through Reciprocal IVF), you may feel the issue lies with you and this may add additional anxiety. Partners may be struggling with their own emotions and may at times feel guilty for having these feelings while you may be struggling. Partners’ feelings are valid and their loss is valid too. Even though they may not have carried the pregnancy, or are not biologically related, partners still may have similar emotions and struggle to cope with the loss of the pregnancy.
The people you are on the path to parenthood with may be trying to support you knowing that emotionally and physically, your ectopic pregnancy loss is incredibly difficult, but they too may struggle.