It’s impossible to shield your children from the harsh realities of life, so you might as well prepare them to face them head-on. When you lose a pregnancy, whether it’s an early miscarriage or the death of your baby at birth, you need to be prepared to explain it to your kids in an age-appropriate way that doesn’t minimize their feelings but also doesn’t scare them senseless. Here are some tips on how to explain pregnancy loss to your kids, depending on their age.
Age 0-5 Years
Children of all ages understand some things better than others. Of course, it depends on your child’s developmental age. A good rule of thumb is to keep your explanations simple and specific, speaking in clear terms that fit your child’s level of understanding.
Try saying something such as, “Mommy’s baby stopped growing in her tummy” or “Mommy is sad because she wanted a baby very much”. This will likely comfort most preschoolers but if they continue to ask more questions try saying, “No one knows why it happened”.
If you feel your child needs more information you can explain that there are lots of reasons for pregnancy loss — sometimes even doctors don’t know why it happens. Even though no one knows exactly what caused it there are probably some things we can do to make sure Mommy stays healthy so she has another baby someday soon.
Did you have tests done while you were pregnant? They might have found out what caused your loss so they can prevent it from happening again in future pregnancies. Some women can’t handle the loss and therefore refuse to try again.
If you feel the same, that’s perfectly fine and you can leave that last part out (about having another baby soon). Remember that some children may still have unanswered questions or fears about pregnancy loss that only their parents or other adults who are important in their lives can help them with.
Age 6-10 Years
Explain that you were sad because a baby was growing in your tummy but died. You still wanted a baby but couldn’t have one until it grew big enough for mommy and daddy to see its heart beating on a special monitor, which took about nine months. So mommy and daddy may try again when they are ready. Ask if there are any questions before moving on.
This explanation is appropriate for most children between 6-10 years old. They may be curious about when you were pregnant or how long ago that was; remember that kids process information differently than adults do. Some children may not want to talk about it at all, while others may bombard you with lots of questions, especially after asking why mom and dad aren’t crying anymore.
Age 11+ Years
Children ages 11 and up can understand more complex concepts about loss, but should still be taught in an age-appropriate way. Still, what you say isn’t as important as how you say it. Be sure to model your behavior around difficult topics and stress that it’s okay for them to talk about their feelings, too.
If they do ask questions, try these responses: “We both tried hard for a baby but things didn’t work out as we planned” or “I wish I had a good answer for why bad things happen, but it just happens sometimes”. The bottom line is that there’s no right way to explain pregnancy loss to your kids.
Instead, focus on making sure they understand that their feelings are okay and normal, and then decide whether or not you want them involved in honoring your deceased baby. Some of these miscarriage gifts from Laurelbox are a great way to honor your loss as a family.
It’s up to you; sometimes grieving parents don’t feel comfortable sharing what they’re going through with their children, while other times it can be really healing for everyone involved.