Support Groups and Professional Help
PSP has a list of member-reviewed Grief Counselors. Read reviews for each entry to learn more about their specialties and how they may be able to help with your specific situation.
The Seleni Institute specializes in full-spectrum support for the emotional health of individuals and their families during the family-building years. They’ve put togetherthis article about how to get the support you need after a pregnancy loss.
Mount Sinai offers bereavement services for families who need support at any time following a loss. Support groups are offered for individuals or couples dealing with stillbirth, miscarriage, and neonatal death, as well as for people who have had to terminate a wanted pregnancy. This falls under the auspices of Mount Sinai’s Perinatal and Pediatric Bereavement Support Program, which provides counseling, education, and support referrals for individuals, couples, and families.
Online Resources and Communities
Share Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support is a community for anyone who experiences the death of a baby - parents, grandparents, siblings, other family members, and professionals. Services include phone support, in-person group meetings, online resources and communities, and caregiver trainings. You can find their resources here for ending a wanted pregnancy.
Ending a Wanted Pregnancy provides abortion grief support as well as an active, private Facebook support group of parents who have ended wanted pregnancies for medical reasons.
Glow In The Woods is for moms and dads (but mostly moms) who have lost babies and seek comfort and community. In addition to information, you’ll find other women who have just been through the same heartbreaking experience posting and supporting each other on thefor one and alldiscussion board. It is a compassionate and comforting community.
Stillmama is an online platform to connect mothers and families who have experienced baby-loss from all over the world. They offer an online community through their website to connect without having to use social media. They also offer trainings, resources, and online support groups.
The Pregnancy Loss Support Program offers free support services to parents who have experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth, newborn death, or termination. These programs have no religious aspect, and all faiths are welcome.
“I had one first trimester and one second trimester loss. For both I received help from the The Pregnancy Loss Support Program of the National Council of Jewish Women. It is non-religious and many women who are not Jewish receive support. They have various supports from telephone counseling with another parent who has had a loss and been given a training, to groups, bereavement rituals and so on. I would also be glad to offer any connection of interest to someone with perinatal loss. ... I know every loss is different but I found comfort in being connected to others who knew the pain of this kind of loss.”
A Heartbreaking Choice is devoted to supporting those who have had a pregnancy termination for medical reasons. They offer private support groups as well as a mailing list.
Tommy’s is the largest UK charity researching the causes and prevention of pregnancy complications, miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and neonatal death. They have a page on terminating a pregnancy for medical reasons, which includes information about support groups and access to midwives who are available to answer any questions you might have or even just to chat if you need to talk through your decision.
Experiences from Parents Who Have Ended a Wanted Pregnancy
Children by Choice, “Ending a Wanted Pregnancy”
Blood & Milk, “Ending A Wanted, Late-Term Pregnancy”
Share Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support, Inc., “Terminating a Wanted Pregnancy”
Advice from PSP Members
On deciding whether to end the pregnancy: "We received our devastating news at 23 weeks and opted to terminate at 25 weeks for a condition that really fell into a grey area in terms of prognosis. We stayed very isolated before we made up our minds because it is difficult for people to really hear about a situation like this without making it clear what they think you should do. I weighed a lot of factors including both the quality of life of the baby if we continued with the pregnancy, but also (and I know some people might think this was selfish) my own quality of life, career, and my mental health. It helped us for that period of time to only speak with and be with people that supported our decision unconditionally and unwaveringly which turned out to be mostly friends and not family; reading about other people's stories and sharing my story on sites/groups like Ending a Wanted Pregnancy; and taking time off to recover and acknowledge that this is a loss like any other loss and grief can be unpredictable. I was also so surprised how many people have had similar experiences in my circle/network and just never shared because of shame. I found knowing that I was not alone in this to be extremely comforting."
Know that this is a more common experience than you may think. As one parent wrote, "Please please know you are not alone - this is more common than people realize, simply because no one speaks about it."
Allow yourself to grieve. You don’t need to ignore what happened, pretend that everything should be okay, or dive right back into work. Give yourself permission to take time off, process, and be with loved ones.
Support groups can help. Many, many families have gone through similar experiences, and finding a space where you can share openly and honestly can be extremely helpful in reducing feelings of isolation. Further, understanding that others have gone through what you’re going through and come out the other side can help you understand not only that the grief will become more bearable, but also that what happened can happen to anyone, and there is not something uniquely wrong with you.
If you’re partnered, remember that this is a loss for both parents, and both of you need time to grieve. Sometimes you have to trade off being the caretaker and the one taken care of. One PSP member shared a mantra that helped them and their spouse through the loss of a wanted pregnancy: "I'm sorry this happened; I love you; We're going to get through this."
Consider having a ceremony or event to mark the loss. If there’s something you want to do to commemorate the loss, then do it. This could mean planting a tree, sitting shiva, or lighting a candle with a loved one and speaking about your wishes for the baby—whatever feels right, respectful, and helpful in your processing.
Talk about it with friends and family if you want to. Conventional wisdom encourages folks to keep quiet about pregnancy until the second trimester, which can leave those who experience loss early on feeling particularly isolated. Sharing what happened with people you trust and care about may help alleviate those feelings of loneliness.
Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself to some small kindness every day or week. Even if your reaction to this kind of self-care is to feel selfish or frivolous, you may find that it helps make the day a little easier to get through.
Here's what members have shared about self-care after ending a wanted pregnancy:
"I was so sad and scared that my future might be bleak in terms of having a child. Things that helped me:
- taking off time from work before and after termination
- speaking with a genetics counselor to understand better
- understanding the diagnosis and that my child’s life would be terrible
- speaking with other women - online and through PSP
- using telephone counseling with women who had experienced loss (free through the National Jewish women’s network)
- exploring if I needed other supports (IVF etc)
- building again toward having the information and healing I needed to try again"
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"It's a huge loss, the loss of "what could have been and what it was supposed to be," and I felt it acutely when I terminated a pregnancy. I felt guilt, too, like I had done something to make it my fault. I did this:
Took time off
Ate ice cream
Went to a lot of matinees
Talked to my therapist"
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"I found comfort in taking control of things I could to get over what I could not. I read the book Ended Beginnings: Healing Pregnancy Loss and it helped me a lot. I also got a couple mementos to remember her by. My partner and I decided to take a break from trying for a few months and took a nice vacation we really enjoyed. At the same time, I got into researching chromosomal abnormalities and tried to do whatever I could to increase my chances of a healthy baby the next time around. I used a lot of strategies from It Starts with the Egg, including switching out my beauty products, getting rid of plastic in my kitchen, and taking supplements along with my partner. I also started acupuncture to help my body heal and prepare, and to relax. In hindsight I think I went a little overboard, but at the time it really helped me to feel like I was doing something."
~ ~ ~
"What helped me? Time. I started therapy. I took two weeks off work immediately. I cried a lot for awhile. I leaned on the people I needed: a friend who also had miscarried was a life saver, I will forever be grateful to her for her care and love during that time. I went onto PSP and read posts from people who, like you, reached out. Knowing I wasn’t alone, knowing others had experienced loss too, helped me to get over what felt like MY fault, and not a random fluke of mitosis.
My husband and I stopped trying for a few months- i needed that time for my body to get back to a non hormonal state, and I needed time to be able to not have a anxious subsequent pregnancy. 5 months later I got pregnant again and it was great, no issues, and I have a healthy 8 mo old baby girl. For that pregnancy I actually switched doctors, didn’t go to the same medical facilities for my US, and (Bc of the pandemic) ended up not even giving birth in the same city! All of that helped."
Know that family members may not necessarily deal with the loss in the way that you’d prefer. They may ignore it, sweep it under the rug, or make it about them. This can be difficult, but it may help to acknowledge that you—and, if you’re partnered, your partner—are the only ones who can really understand what the experience feels like and means. Further, family members may be able to move on long before you are. Give yourself permission to continue grieving even after others have seemingly moved on.
There will be moments of relief. Even if you are feeling terrible most of the time, do recognize that every day will include moments when you feel less terrible. When those moments arrive, try to appreciate them. As you process your experience, there will be some relief, even if only for a minute or so at a time at first.
Know that you were the parent your child needed. Even in the midst of trauma, you made the most compassionate choices for your unborn child and your family. Only you could have cared for that child in the loving way that you did. The child needed special care, and you provided it. You were the parent your child needed.