Tessa Dunlop speaks out against the “unhelpful silence” around miscarriage

In sharing her story Tessa hopes she can help other women who currently suffer their loss alone.

September 2016

We so admire Tessa Dunlop’s bravery as she joins other high profile women who’ve recently challenged the taboo surrounding miscarriage and shares her story of loss.

“I am in pain. Yes, it’s physical. It throbs where the baby was so recently growing in my womb”

Miscarriage is by far the biggest cause of pregnancy loss in the UK with 1 in 4 women experiencing the heartbreak that Tessa has opened up about.

“The loss of my tiny baby son (he measured just 5 in long) is the latest milestone in what has been, until now, a private agony.”

Tessa was more than three months pregnant when she caught a bug, most likely Listeriosis, which caused her to miscarry her baby. In the Mail on Sunday Tessa wrote that the infection was probably caused by something she ate, a “hellish thought.”

Tessa also focuses on her age and the fact that this pregnancy was the product of IVF after she previously suffered a miscarriage at 11 weeks and an ectopic pregnancy.

We applaud Tessa’s bravery in sharing her story and its details.

Miscarriage is one of the least understood causes of baby loss and we still don’t know why most occur.

Many women and couples who have had or are experiencing a miscarriage worry that they may have somehow caused it to happen. However, many factors that cause worry, such as spicy food, have no known link to miscarriage.

Tommy’s midwife Nikki says,

“Miscarriage is devastating for any woman and, although true that listeria can cause miscarriage, the cause of miscarriage in general is still unclear. It is important that Tessa does not blame herself or think this is the end of the road for her due to her age. Her age is obviously a factor but remember Cherie Blair had her fourth child aged 45! It is also interesting to note that the Office for National Statistics figures show that pregnancy rates for over-40s have more than doubled, with 14 conceptions per 1,000 women aged 40-plus compared with six per 1,000 in 1990. The grief caused by a miscarriage like Tessa’s can be cruel and taking the pregnancy journey again may not be what she wants; but it has to be her decision.”

Following the birth of her now seven-year-old daughter, Tessa lost her job and experienced a period of personal turmoil which caused her to delay having a second child. This affected her decision to share her story;

“All of this is difficult to admit and therefore best shoved out of sight, kneaded into a small corner to be dealt with in the middle of the night.”

Tessa relied upon internet and newspaper articles of other people’s experiences of miscarriage in the aftermath of her own and took solace in reading of shared experiences.

“Pain can feel unmanageable, but it would be so much worse endured alone.”

In sharing her story Tessa hopes she can help other women for whom the “firmly ingrained silence” means they currently suffer their loss alone.

We support Tessa and hope that, in an age where many of us look to celebrities for guidance, her bravery helps more women feel supported in sharing their story.

“We need to drop the old-fashioned taboos surrounding fertility and admit that many of the babies born to ‘older’ women in particular are accompanied by a painful back story. Some only have a painful story. Fewer celebrity ‘miracle’ births and more honesty about the pitfalls of middle age that are so cruelly exclusive to women would help everyone.”

Tommy’s #misCOURAGE campaign, launched last year, aims to break the silence around miscarriage by helping women share their stories in our Book of #misCOURAGE online. If you’ve read Tessa’s story and would like to share your own, you can do so here.

If you are concerned about miscarriage and want to know what factors have been indicated to increase the risk, read our information page here.

If you are struggling to cope after a miscarriage, we have advice on coping after miscarriage here.