Telling Young Children About Miscarriage
I'm eager to tell my two young daughters that I'm pregnant, but I'm concerned I may miscarry. When is the best time to tell my daughters about the pregnancy, and what should I say if a miscarriage occurs?
Q. We have two daughters, ages 2 and 4, and I just found out that I'm pregnant. We want to tell our girls about the pregnancy, but we're also concerned about the possibility 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?
A. 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 heavily on your mind. I'm assuming that's because you've gone through a miscarriage in the past. If that's the case, I grieve with you over your loss, but we can be confident that that child is safely in the arms of our Heavenly Father.
As you may know, about 20 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 choose to wait until you're safely past the 12th 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 is already growing inside your tummy.
As your pregnancy advances, have your girls feel your stomach and listen for the baby inside as he/she starts to move around. If your doctor will allow it, you might even take your daughters with you to your ultrasound appointment. If not, ask for a video or photos of the ultrasound to share with them afterwards.
If you do suffer a miscarriage, I'd encourage you to 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 your pastor, not with your girls. A two- and four-year-old aren't mature enough to understand or process a parent's intense grief.
Copyright 2007 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved.