The sad reality is that one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage.
But it’s the silence around the subject that leaves women who have lost babies harbouring unexpressed feelings of failure
Tommy’s conducted a survey of more than 5,561 women who have experienced miscarriage and discovered some sad truths behind their loss. Seventy per cent of respondents said they felt guilty and 79% said they felt like a failure after losing a pregnancy.
Two thirds of the women who took part in the survey admitted they found it hard to talk about their miscarriage and 85% said that they didn’t think people understood what they had gone through.
The survey revealed that women even found it too hard to share their feelings with those closest to them. A high 67 per cent felt that they couldn’t even talk about it to their best friend and 35 per cent didn’t feel like they could talk to the father about their experience.
Those who did try to talk about it felt a lack of understanding from others with many people not knowing what to say, with more than a third receiving the well-meaning but hurtful comments that the baby they had lost ‘wasn’t really a baby’ and 84% said they were told ‘it wasn’t meant to be’.
In response to the findings, Tommy’s is launching #misCOURAGE, a nationwide campaign on Facebook and Twitter to encourage mums, dads, family, friends and all those who have experienced miscarriage, directly or indirectly, to speak up, share their experiences, show their support and tell their stories.
The campaign, that starts today (Monday 16 November), has widespread support that includes the writer Viv Groskop as well as broadcaster Lisa Francesca Nand whose recent documentary First Heartbeat tells the story of her own experiences of miscarriage.
Currently, women in the UK do not get their case fully investigated unless they have suffered three consecutive miscarriages. Tommy’s feel this is unfair and should be reduced.
Tommy’s CEO, Jane Brewin, said: “It is not acceptable for a couple to be put through this much suffering and uncertainty. We would like to see an immediate reduction to two and ultimately our aim is that every miscarriage is taken seriously and thoroughly investigated.”
While one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, relatively little is known about what causes it. In order to undertake crucial medical research into miscarriage and reduce its prevalence, Tommy’s is opening the UK’s first national Miscarriage Research Centre in collaboration with Imperial College London and Warwick University in April 2016.
Tommy’s aim is to halve the number of miscarriages by 2030 by funding medical research. The charity has led research into stillbirth for more than five years and can now offer women a much clearer understanding of the reasons. It is hoped that funding and research into miscarriage will be able to offer the same medical explanation to women who experience it.
Watch the below video from Tommy's #misCOURAGE campaign.
Jane Brewin added: “We think some of the social taboos that surround open discussion of miscarriage are in part the cause of the limited funding and support for research into prevention. Medical science doesn’t fully understand miscarriage which is why funding is so critical. Our centre will lead research to answer questions about unexplained early miscarriage and lead to prevention. It will identify women at risk, focus on those that need most help and will ask how medical science can improve antenatal care to prevent miscarriages happening. It will also improve care for women who have experienced miscarriage.”
Professor Phillip Bennett, Director of the Institute for Reproductive and Developmental Biology, Imperial College London, said: “As a doctor, I wish I could give my patients the answers they’re looking for. The thing is, we have the expertise, the technology, the drive – we just need the funding. Tommy’s new centre is the most promising chance yet of making breakthroughs in our understanding of early miscarriage.”
Rosie Houston, who experienced four miscarriages said: “I often felt frustrated at people’s responses, comments such as ‘They are so common’, ‘It will happen’ or ‘At least it was early’. But I was so gutted and sad. People lose their parents but you’d never respond with ‘It happens’. Losing a baby at any stage of pregnancy is traumatic and all you really want to hear is ‘I’m so sorry’.”
Find out more about #misCOURAGE here on Tommy's website.