A charity in Dundee has launched the city’s first confidential support group for men affected by pregnancy loss.
About 80 women access the services on offer at Alternatives Dundee every year, but it was felt men also need a safe space to process their grief.
The charity offers support to those who have experienced unintended pregnancy, abortion or pregnancy loss.
In an effort to encourage men to open up and share their own experiences, centre manager Rachel Macdonald and counsellor Tim Mineard have launched the city’s first confidential support group for men affected by pregnancy loss.
She said: “We do sometimes see partners for couple counselling, but it’s quite rare that a man comes and looks for one-to-one support. Is it because they really don’t want to have that space to talk and reflect on how things have affected them or is it because they feel that they can’t?
“We felt that we weren’t really accessible to men so we wondered if the needs of men were being considered. That’s why we are piloting this group but we don’t know if it will work.
“There has been a growth of supportive men groups but there is a general sense that this is something that is needed – that men can connect with.
“It will be a place for men to come together in a relaxed way to talk about shared experiences; for it to be informal and something’s that not seen as therapy or counselling. It will be an attempt to break down barriers.
“One of the difficulties with one-to-one support for men is the idea that they have to talk about feelings. With this, there’s no expectation.”
Rachel believes that, at present, many of the men who use the charity’s services are there to support their partners.
She said: “Their whole focus, when there is a miscarriage, is to be there for the partner. We wonder, is there a point at which they think that their feelings have to be suppressed so they can be strong?
“All the excellent medical attention is on the woman and she’s physically going through something traumatic in her body. So that’s why the focus is, quite rightly, on taking best care of her, making sure that she’s well looked after. But, perhaps there’s something about that that makes men feel they don’t have permission to ‘feel’ in the same way women do.
“Unlike a later bereavement, there isn’t something to say that that pregnancy [a miscarriage] existed because it was there, then it’s gone.
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“Grief is very much a swing, backwards and forwards, and it’s healthy to feel well and then to feel back within the emotions of loss.”
The group will run every Thursday from 6.30pm until 7.30pm at Fintry Parish Church. It will begin on February 20.
Anyone interested in attending the group can contact Rachel at Alternatives Dundee on 01382 221112 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org