We must close the gap between miscarriage care expectations and reality

As Baby Loss Awareness Week draws to a close, new research shines a light on the specialist care and support that bereaved parents need - and how often those needs are sadly not met.

A new survey found the vast majority (82%) of UK adults who had experienced a miscarriage with a current or ex-partner couldn’t (or did not recall being able to) access bereavement care or mental health support afterwards. In contrast to that stark reality, 94% of those who hadn’t been personally affected said they’d expect anyone who had a miscarriage to be offered a follow-up appointment with a professional to check in on their welfare.

Nearly three quarters (73%) of people surveyed who had been through a miscarriage with a current or ex-partner said they weren’t (or didn’t recall being) able to talk through the possible causes with a healthcare professional, and 72% of those without personal experience said they would expect anyone who had a miscarriage to always be given a reason why.

How this affects families

In the absence of answers, grieving families all too often blame themselves, and the survey also highlighted the emotional impact of baby loss on both parents. More than half (55%) of those who had been through a miscarriage with a current or ex-partner said they struggled to talk to friends and family about it, and almost half (47%) even found it difficult to talk to their partner.

The survey results highlight a huge gap between the general public’s expectations of miscarriage care and the service that’s actually available to couples who experience it - so Professor Siobhan Quenby from Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research has been in the media today, discussing our ongoing efforts to resolve the issues raised by these new figures, through our ground-breaking prevention research as well as our tireless work to support bereaved parents.

What we're doing about it

Recurrent miscarriage expert Prof Quenby is a consultant obstetrician at University Hospital Coventry & Warwickshire, where she runs specialist Tommy’s research clinics for women with a history of miscarriage to join our trials, giving them access to cutting-edge tests and treatments which aim to understand the reasons for loss in order to stop it happening again.

Prof Quenby has been speaking out alongside passionate campaigner Jessica Hepburn, who sadly experienced recurrent miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. Jessica had 11 rounds of IVF, multiple miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy before giving up her quest for children at 43. She said: “I’m never getting over the pain of what I’ve been through but I’m trying to turn that into a positive for myself and other people, and that feels like a good life.”

These heart-breaking statistics were published ahead of tonight’s Channel 5 film ‘Miscarriage: Our Story’, which sees Jessica and other famous faces share their experiences of loss - including Tommy’s #TogetherForChange campaigners Izzy Judd and Anna Whitehouse, as well as Lacey Turner who is a keen supporter of our PRISM trial after benefitting from progesterone treatment.

Have you had a miscarriage and need support? Read our advice pages here or contact our midwives on [email protected].