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Couples Prone To Split After Pregnancy Loss

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As if losing a child weren't difficult enough ....

sad couple
momlogic's Vivian: New research from the University of Michigan Health System, just published in Pediatrics and cited in The New York Times, shows that married couples are more likely to break up after suffering a miscarriage -- and unmarried couples face an even higher risk of going their separate ways after pregnancy loss.

Even more staggering, the risk of a breakup escalates significantly with the length of the pregnancy. The study says, in part, "Over a 15-year period, couples who miscarried had a 22 percent higher risk of experiencing a breakup, while couples who experienced a stillbirth had a 40 percent higher risk of their relationship ending. For a miscarriage, the risk persists up to three years after the loss. For stillbirths, it persists up to nine years after the loss, according to research data."

It's the first time American researchers have examined how miscarriage or stillbirth affects relationships.

"Given the frequency of pregnancy loss, these findings could have significant societal implications if related," says lead author Katherine Gold, MD, MSW, MS, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Michigan Medical School. "Miscarriage and stillbirth can be powerful and traumatic events for families. While many couples become closer after a loss, if a couple was struggling before the loss, this could be a huge stress for their relationship."

A key factor seems to lie in how men and women process their grief. The results call for additional research, to learn more about specific risks and whether or not certain interventions can help long-term marriage and cohabitation outcomes.

New York Times writer Lisa Belkin says that informing couples of the risks to their marriage at the time of the loss might encourage them to seek help sooner, either individually or together (through couples therapy).

I'm certainly inclined to agree about the importance of grief counseling for both parents after the loss of a baby. I've had two miscarriages -- each near the end of the first trimester -- and although we were both completely and utterly devastated, I found there to be certain differences in how my husband and I each processed our loss. The first time, I was completely consumed with grief and couldn't understand how my husband could carry on almost normally. Turns out, that impression was sheerly external: He felt compelled to put on a brave face because he wanted to be strong for me.

Through a lot of honest discussion, we came through it holding hands, but I've seen firsthand how this heartache can crack the earth between a couple -- and how that crack can easily widen into a chasm.

How about you guys? Have you known any couples to split after the trauma of losing a pregnancy?

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5 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous April 11, 2010, 11:05 AM

It’s amazing to me how a miscarriage can devastate someone life or relationship. A miscarriage is a normal, frequent fact of life. It’s your body recognizing that it’s not a healthy fetus and terminating the pregnancy. Women should be relieved that their body is intuitive enough to react in such a way. It saves a lot of heartache later on. I have had two miscarriages and one awesome, healthy child. While the miscarriages were sad, I understood and was grateful for why they happened. I think having a child with a disability or having a still birth would have been more devastating and detrimental to my marriage.

tennmom April 11, 2010, 12:28 PM

A loss of a pregnancy or a loss of a living child can strenghten an already stable,strong relationship but it can also shatter a relationship that was fragile in the first place.
If loss contributes to the end of a relationship, that relationship was pretty much doomed in the first place.

Anonymous April 11, 2010, 3:01 PM

it eludes me why momlogic constantly reposts the same blog over and over again! so annoying! put something new up!

Cahill March 17, 2011, 11:12 PM

sometimes it works the other way. couples becomes strong
getting pregnant

tabletki na pryszcze April 3, 2011, 7:32 AM

It’s good too read your site again buddy, i see some interesting updates here…

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