Having a family as an LGBTIQA+ person can bring additional challenges. A lack of support or understanding about your loss from others, including family, friends and healthcare professionals, can complicate that journey.
You may experience a lack of sensitivity towards your miscarriage. You may also feel like you are not being acknowledged. Some have shared that support is especially lacking for those who require a surrogate or are the non-gestational parent, as the physical aspects of loss or the gestational parent can become the focus.
As a LGBTIQA+ person or partner you may face unique decisions and issues that other couples don’t have to face, such as finding an LGBTIQA+ inclusive doctor or clinic, a surrogate, or another egg or sperm donor. It can also be difficult if your family or friends do not support your LGBTIQA+ identity or decision to have a family. You may not have let family or friends know about your parenting plans and your recent pregnancy loss for fear of a negative response. You may not have informed your workplace about your parenting aspirations and pregnancy loss for fear of LGBTIQA+ related discrimination.
It is normal and valid to feel distressed, angry, and frustrated when your loss is not recognised or upset that heterosexual people may not have to go through as difficult a journey as you when starting a family.
How might I feel?
If you are in a crisis situation, please call Lifeline (13 11 14), Beyond Blue (1300 224 636), or 000 immediately. If you are unsure, you can learn about the signs for when you should seek mental health care.
The intensity of complex feelings, especially sadness and grief following a miscarriage, is not related to how far along someone was in their pregnancy or their physical involvement in the pregnancy. Instead, the meaning of this pregnancy to a family or individual, at this point, deserves consideration. People must grieve the loss of their pregnancy and the loss of the future they imagined for themselves and their families.
We encourage you to embrace and be curious about your feelings rather than critical or judgemental. There is no right or wrong way to feel. Not everyone who experiences miscarriage will feel sad; some may feel relieved or confused. Most likely, you will have many different feelings simultaneously, and your emotions are likely to change over time.
Below are some common feelings people may experience after a miscarriage. Your feelings are understandable and have meaning.
Grief and Sadness
Grief and sadness are shared emotions following a miscarriage.
Sadness is a natural and expected feeling to experience. You are not only feeling sad about the loss of your baby, but also the loss of the future you imagined, and possibly feel sad that others are not providing you the support or reaction you expected.
If you didn’t tell anyone about your pregnancy, you might feel alone in your pain and sadness. Although it can be challenging to be vulnerable and share these feelings, talking to someone about your loss may help with these feelings.
Partners, family, and friends may understand your feelings, or they may not. Partners often have different experiences and reactions, and open conversations can be worthwhile. If you do not receive the support you would like from friends or family, consider speaking to a support group or perhaps even a psychologist or mental health professional.
You may experience a period after the miscarriage where you feel emotionally and physically empty or numb. Some people feel a sense of disbelief that this has happened to them, and it may feel surreal to feel so distressed when there are limited memories to process. Allow yourself time to absorb what has happened, talk to others, and find ways to remember your baby.
NOTE: If you experience intense and prolonged feelings of disconnection, numbness, or dissociation which interfere with your functioning, you should speak with a mental health professional.
Feelings of anger may arise because you do not feel in control of the situation or your body. Anger may arise from not knowing the reasons for the miscarriage or feeling dissatisfied with the medical treatment you received. Or you may be resentful that other people have not responded to you in the way you felt you needed or angry that some people who are cis heteronormative are able to conceive easily. A miscarriage can feel unfair and unjust. Anger can sometimes be a way of keeping feelings of sadness at bay.
Many people describe feeling jealous of people who have children or have fallen pregnant. It is painful to see others with a baby, and, understandably, you feel this way. Criticising yourself and feeling ashamed about these feelings doesn’t help and certainly doesn’t take them away. These feelings are transient and don’t make you a terrible person. Speaking with others who have experienced a miscarriage may be helpful. It can also be beneficial to avoid events that might trigger your sadness until you feel ready.
A miscarriage can be a very confusing experience. It can occur suddenly and out of the blue. There may be little explanation for why it happened, and you may experience a whole range of intense, complicated emotions as a result.
You may experience shock as a miscarriage is not the outcome that you imagined when you found out you were pregnant. Shock and disbelief are common feelings, and it often takes time to absorb that you have had a miscarriage.
Worry or anxiety is a common emotion following a miscarriage. The intensity and duration of anxiety are likely to change over time.
The experience of the miscarriage itself may be very frightening, depending upon the circumstances. Necessary medical procedures may be painful, and you may not feel like you can control the situation. The absence of control can make you feel anxious.
Uneasy thoughts tend to take the form of “what if…” or “I should…”. Many people fear having another miscarriage and worry about what this means about their body and their health. You may also feel nervous about telling others about the miscarriage.
If you feel unable to switch off feelings of anxiety or worry, and you or others around you are concerned about you, consider seeking a referral to a psychologist or mental health professional who can assist you.
Failure or Lack of Control
You may feel like you have failed yourself, your partner, or your family by miscarrying. Or perhaps you feel like your body has failed you or have no control over your body, which can arouse anger and anxiety. It is essential to know that it is highly unlikely that you have done anything to cause your miscarriage. Trusting your body again can take time.
Many people feel guilty or blame themselves for a miscarriage, fearing they did something “wrong.” It is rarely the case that you have done something to cause a miscarriage.
In distressing situations, where we have no control over outcomes, we are inclined to look for explanations about why terrible, unforeseen things happen. In the absence of proof, it is understandable why we might want to blame ourselves, even though there may be no evidence that you caused this or were at fault in any way.
When pregnancies progress to term, people have generally had more time (and therefore a more significant opportunity) to work through and somewhat resolve feelings of ambivalence by the time the baby arrives. They probably still feel very anxious about what is ahead, but the dramatic physical changes of pregnancy, especially the latter stages, can support this adjustment. The often-sudden nature of miscarriage can interrupt this process, and people feel uneasiness when left with mixed (unresolved) feelings about the pregnancy.
You may feel relieved after a miscarriage. Perhaps your baby was diagnosed with a medical condition, or you, your partner, or your surrogate was unwell during pregnancy (e.g., Morning sickness or hyperemesis gravidarum). You may also feel relieved if the pregnancy was unplanned or if your circumstances would have made caring for a baby a challenge. There are many valid reasons people may feel relief following a miscarriage and feeling this way doesn’t make you a bad person. You can feel relief simultaneously as feeling a range of other complicated emotions about the pregnancy loss.
You may also feel guilty because you feel relieved after losing a pregnancy. This feeling might coincide as you are feeling sad or anxious. It is normal to have a range of complex emotions at any one time. There is probably a good reason why part of you feels relieved, which is OK. Relief doesn’t discount feelings of sadness or make you a terrible person. Uncertainty (or ambivalence) about the pregnancy is a normal part of all pregnancies, even the most wanted pregnancy.
When should I seek mental health care?
If you think that the intensity of your feelings is troublesome to manage alone, you might consider seeking professional mental health support. You can now access Medicare rebates to speak to a psychologist who has high-level training and who is required to keep the details of what you tell them confidential. To find out more about when you may want to start seeking professional mental health support, you can read about common mental health symptoms on our When should I seek mental health care? page.
What can I do?
Receiving medical care
Disclosing to your doctor and other health professionals about the gender you identify with, your pronouns, sexual orientation, or sex characteristics can help you feel more acknowledged during your fertility journey. During consultations, if appropriate, introduce your partner. This inclusion will help your partner be more engaged and allow the medical professionals to support your healthcare as you need and imagine it to be.
Finding support as an LGBTIQA+ person is possible through LGBTIQA+ specific organisations and groups. Talk to your doctor about support and clinics known to be LGBTIQA+ inclusive. You can also find social media pages and groups in the community that can help you on your journey, such as #LGBTBabyLoss, on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Trying for another baby
Trying to become pregnant again can be very emotionally, physically, and financially overwhelming. You may feel pressured to continue your fertility journey through assisted reproductive technology or your surrogate or donor plan before a specific time elapses. This stress may make you feel rushed into decisions before having the chance to grieve. It is important to remember that you (and your partner, if appropriate) determine your fertility journey, and you decide when you are emotionally ready to try again.
We acknowledge that the majority of the information on our website is cis heteronormative. We acknowledge that the terminology used on our website is universal and not intended to exclude any person(s).
We acknowledge that miscarriage impacts everyone and that includes people of all genders, sexual identities, sexual orientations, races, cultures, religions, and beliefs. The purpose of this website is to provide general information and does not replace your relationship with your doctor.
We understand the need for more research on LGBTIQA+ people’s experiences of miscarriage. You can learn about how we plan to expand our LGBTIQA+ section and how you can help on our What’s next for Miscarriage Australia page.
The information for LGBTIQA+ has been kindly reviewed by
Associate Professor Ruth McNair AM
General practitioner | Chairperson of Pride Foundation Australia | Honorary Associate Professor at the Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne