Navigating the Trauma of Baby Loss: Insights from Reproductive Grief Research

Experiencing pregnancy loss is more common than we might think, yet the profound impact it has on individuals often goes unrecognized by society and even healthcare providers. The Institute of Reproductive Grief Care is addressing this gap through their dedicated efforts to bring research and education on this crucial topic to a broader audience. Today, we're shedding light on some pivotal findings from "The Trauma of Perinatal Loss: A Scoping Review", a study that one of their Healthcare Task Force Members released during one of their quarterly Research Reveals series. This study delves into the research surrounding the trauma of baby loss(*) - here are 5 key takeaways which summarizes the main findings:

1. Baby Loss as a Real and Long-Term Trauma:

It’s probably not a surprise to all who have suffered from baby loss, but the research in the review makes it clear that baby loss is a real and long-term trauma for many parents. Research indicates that up to 60% of bereaved parents undergo post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following baby loss. Contrary to the belief that time heals all wounds, a study revealed that 44% of women reported PTSD up to four years after the loss, emphasizing the long-lasting impact. In fact, the effects can extend for up to 12 years, dispelling the notion that one should be "over" the loss quickly. So if you have experienced loss and are not “over it” yet - know that you are not alone.

2. Impacts on Various Aspects of Life:

The study also acknowledges that the trauma of baby loss is something that affects many parts of the parents' lives and that it’s not uncommon to feel stuck and unable to move forward with life. The trauma of baby loss can lead to feelings of anger, hostility, and social sensitivity. Additionally, affected individuals may experience sleep disturbances, eating disorders, dizziness, and headaches. Recognizing the holistic impact of this trauma is essential for providing comprehensive support.

3. Social Support Matters:

The study underscores the significant influence of social support in navigating the emotional aftermath of baby loss. Friends and family play a crucial role in providing understanding and empathy, particularly during vulnerable milestones such as learning about the diagnosis, sharing the news, and the days, weeks, and months following the loss. So for anyone close to someone experiencing loss - you being there, listening and not downplaying the loss can make a huge difference for your friend. And, please remember that anyone, regardless of gender, who experiences baby loss is affected by it. The study revealed that men reported that they rarely received emotional support from their healthcare providers or their own social circle. Often the task of conveying the news of the loss also became that of the father, something that was itself.

4. Role of Healthcare Providers:

Healthcare providers can significantly influence the intensity of parents' emotional trauma. Acknowledging the loss and normalizing emotional responses are essential steps. The study advocates for follow-up care for at least a year after the loss, recognizing the enduring nature of the trauma. It also highlights the added emotional and psychological challenges during subsequent pregnancies after a loss.

5. Vulnerability Milestones:

Specific moments during the journey of loss, including learning of the diagnosis, birth (if relevant), and the days, weeks, and months following the loss, are particularly vulnerable times for bereaved parents. Being aware of and providing support during these milestones can have a profound healing effect.


We extend our appreciation to the Reproductive Grief Institute for illuminating these critical findings. Understanding the trauma experienced by those affected by baby loss is vital, and the study offers valuable insights and practical advice for friends, family, and healthcare providers. By collectively embracing this knowledge, we aim to make the challenging journey of baby loss a little more manageable for those who endure it.

Note: *Perinatal loss is the academic term for a pregnancy loss sometime between conception and birth, or of the loss of an infant up to 28 days after birth - but we have chosen to use the term “baby loss” here instead.

About the authors


Maya Maria Brown, M.A., is an infertility mental health expert. She has a master’s in Counseling Psychology, and has worked with individuals and couples on infertility and relationships. She also has personal experience with infertility and is currently in treatment.

Jenny Ann

Jenny Ann Johnson is the founder of Tilly. She’s spent a decade working on digital educational products prior to founding Tilly. After struggling with infertility and miscarriages for many years she finally found her path forward and is today blessed with four children. She is now creating the supportive and educational tools she herself was missing while going through fertility treatments.


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