Partners and Ectopic Pregnancy
There are multiple aspects to partners’ experiences after an ectopic pregnancy; they are often the ones supporting a loved one after loss and, at the same time, have their own feelings to process and support themselves. We are here to lean on to help partners be there for their loved ones, while also providing a space for their own emotional recovery and personal journeys after their loss.
A lot of people think that the woman has had the ectopic and the operation so comfort them. However, the man also has to bear some of the scars – mainly emotional.- Phillip
How can I help my loved one who has experienced an ectopic pregnancy?
This is the question that we are asked the most from partners. Many partners contact us to find out how to support their loved one when suspected or diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy and we help to explore the sorts of actions that might assist.
From a practical perspective, we know that you will have numerous questions about symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and physical and emotional recovery process. Your loved one will also have lots of the same types of questions. This website has been produced with both the person who has experienced the ectopic pregnancy and their partner in mind – both you and your loved one are at the heart of our content. The information here can help answer those crucial questions to help you navigate your experience of ectopic pregnancy – as individuals and together. You can help your loved one by relaying the information and support that is available here at appropriate times and pace.
From an emotional point of view, being open to listen and talk should not be underestimated. Communication is essential. If finding the words to talk is hard, you could write a letter to express yourself and can choose to share this with your loved one, if you wish. Letting your loved one know that you have taken the thought and effort to visit this website/contact us could even in itself be a thoughtful and comforting gesture.
Our due date is coming up in May.... helping to raise awareness has been extremely healing as we get closer to that date. We are so thankful to this organization.- Katie and Jess
In the face of uncertainty, we can sometimes feel helpless but, by wanting to support your loved one and contacting us to help you do so, you are already doing a lot.
Be kind to yourself.
Looking after your own needs
We are also here to remind you that a partner’s own experiences, feelings, thoughts, and reactions deserve just as much support. It is just as important to take some time for you. Self-care is vital to be able to support others as well as being crucial for your own well-being.
It is worth bearing in mind that loss often impacts partners later as the initial focus is on person who has the ectopic pregnancy. Whenever you may need a shoulder to lean on, we are here for you.
Your feelings matter
Some partners question whether they have the right to grieve after a loss because they have not been pregnant and try to minimise their feelings. Whether a person has been pregnant or not, after ectopic pregnancy, each partner has their individual feelings and reactions to process from their own perspective of the experience.
A partner may have been frightened about their loved one’s well-being during treatment, feel relief that their loved one is physically “ok” after being discharged, and have worries for their loved one and about the future. They may or may not have yet connected with the pregnancy or loss. They may be grieving the loss of hopes and dreams. All of these emotions and more are perfectly understandable and valid.
Give yourself time
The pain of losing a pregnancy can be overwhelming. For some partners, this grief can be immediate, but many need time and space and the feelings may not affect them until weeks or even months later. It is important to try not to pressure yourself with certain expectations of what your recovery should look and feel like and try not to feel guilty about your thoughts or reactions. There are no deadlines or rules; there is no right or wrong way to grieve and there is no required process or pattern that you must follow with your grief.
Many partners try to distract themselves from their feelings by keeping busy and taking on the practical activities that are needed following the loss of a pregnancy. Often this can lead to looking for solutions and ways to ‘fix things’. This is a common and natural reaction.
However, as people grieve differently, it can be misinterpreted as not caring about the loss and can lead to arguments. If you do find that you are distracting yourself, it is important to do so recognising that this is something you are actively doing, while also allowing yourself space to grieve. Try to communicate that this is your way of functioning and coping.
For male partners, society can put certain expectations on their behaviour. Men are usually expected, or may expect themselves, to be the “strong” one at such an emotional time. Men are sometimes not encouraged to express emotions freely. As a result, they can avoid talking about their emotions or the loss and minimise their feelings. This can lead to feeling alone in their grief.
As a female partner, you may feel similar thoughts and emotions. Talking openly about your emotions and verbalising how the loss has affected you will help to grieve together and support each other through a difficult time.
At times, others may make you feel excluded without realising, which can make you feel isolated in your emotions. You may also feel guilty or even selfish for having some of those feelings, and that you are making the loss about you. Although you have not physically carried and lost the pregnancy, emotionally and psychologically you too have suffered a loss and also need support from family and friends or professional support.
Bringing up the difficult conversation
If your partner is focused on their own grief, you may feel that you do not want to add to it and try to put your own feelings on hold. This can come from a place of wanting to protect partners by not raising a potentially distressing subject. While being a family ‘rock’ and providing commendable support, this can also lead to difficulties if you don’t get the opportunity to grieve or if your partner misinterprets your attempts to be protective as indifference to the loss. Again, communication is the key to working your way through this distressing time.
Bereaved people sometimes experience temporary difficulties with their sexual relationship. For example, you may find lovemaking a source of comfort and closeness, while your partner may not feel physically ready, may see sex as a frightening reminder of the loss, or may feel that the desire for sex is insensitive.
Talk about it
Although it may feel difficult, the most important thing you can do is to talk openly. This is easier if you are aware that grief is very unique and that your respective feelings and how you deal with them will not always be the same. Every individual expresses and deals with their feelings differently and it is not an indication that one partner feels the loss of a pregnancy more intensely than the other.
We can help you to express yourself about what has happened. Our support services are available to you at any time. Partners are welcome to join our Zoom groups alongside their loved ones and we arrange dedicated Zoom groups for partners too.
According to studies, early pregnancy loss can sometimes lead to mental health issues for the person who has experienced the physical loss or their partner. One in 12 partners experience post-traumatic stress after early pregnancy loss including ectopic pregnancy. Symptoms include re-experiencing the feelings associated with the loss, suffering intrusive or unwanted thoughts, having nightmares or flashbacks, or avoiding anything that might remind of the loss. If you or your loved one is experiencing symptoms of PTS, this is not something to be embarrassed about. PTS requires treatment and it is important to seek professional help.
Sometimes it can help you or your partner to communicate with someone else who has been through what you are going through. Just hearing that you are not alone in your experience and that your feelings are normal and similar to other people’s can be a huge comfort and can relieve some of the pressure.
Recovery takes time. Just like a physical wound, a psychological wound cannot be forced to heal quickly. Flowing with the healing process is better than fighting it. It is important to understand that there are no time frames for this and each person takes as long as they take to overcome the challenges of experiencing a trauma such as pregnancy loss.
You and your partner may feel the need to talk about what happened and how it made you both feel then, and how it is making you feel now, over many weeks and months. Often, feeling that there is someone who is not trying to fix anything but is able to listen in a compassionate way, is extremely helpful in the recovery process.
Trying to conceive again
Trying to conceive can be a challenging time, especially after loss. Some feel that, after allowing recovery time, they want to try to conceive again straight away, while others want to allow more time for extra emotional healing. If undergoing fertility treatment, there may be extra considerations such as waiting for certain number of menstrual cycles as advised by your fertility clinic or consultant.
It is important that partners are comfortable with when to try to conceive again and this will involve lots of open conversations to get there. Trying to conceive again is likely to bring a mix of emotions including tentative excitement, worries and fears. Being honest about the complex emotions that are involved can help navigate this next stage.
The EPT Partners Engagement Group
To help shape the services that The EPT offers, we are hoping to put together a new partners engagement group. We want to hear from partners on what you think would support other partners during and after diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy and how we could best assist. Please complete this short form if you would like to take part and thank you for your interest. Please note that this form is for expressing interest in the partners engagement group. If you are seeking support at any time, please do get in touch via our link above.