How Do I Explain Miscarriage?

Dear Dr. Bill,

We have 2 daughters, ages 2 and 4, and I just found out that I’m pregnant with a third child.  We want to tell our girls about the pregnancy, but we’re also concerned about the risk of a miscarriage—and we don’t want them to worry about it.  So when is the best time to tell them, and what should we say if a miscarriage occurs?



Dear Kendra,

First of all, congratulations on your pregnancy!  You’re certainly going to have your hands full with three kids under 5!  Sharing the news about your pregnancy with your daughters should be a joyous experience, but it sounds like the risk of miscarriage is weighing heavy on your mind.

I’m assuming that’s because you’ve gone through a miscarriage in the past.  If that’s the case, I’m so sorry about your loss.

As you may know, about twenty percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage during the first trimester—about one in five.  The risk is greater if you’ve had multiple miscarriages in the past.  For that reason, you may want to wait until you’re safely past the twelfth week of pregnancy before you tell your daughters.  Then share the good news that God has blessed your family with a new baby, a precious little life that growing inside your tummy.

As your pregnancy advances, have your girls feel your stomach and listen for the baby inside as it starts to move.  You might even take your daughters with you to your ultrasound appointment if your doctor will allow that.  If not, ask for a video or photos of the ultrasound to share with them afterwards.

If you do suffer a miscarriage, be honest with the girls.  Tell them that God knew this baby was very sick, and so He decided to take him to be with Him in heaven.

Grieve the loss together, but if you find yourself overwhelmed by intense feelings of sadness, share those feelings with your husband and a counselor, not with your girls.  A two and a four-year-old aren’t mature enough to understand or process a parent’s intense grief.

Thanks for writing, Kendra.


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