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Mumsnet miscarriage survey: 2019

Women who miscarry are experiencing increased waiting times and inadequate pain medication

By Mumsnet HQ | Last updated Jul 1, 2021


Mumsnet, as you may know, has a long-running campaign to improve the quality of care given to women who are miscarrying or experiencing other forms of pregnancy loss. Every two years we run a survey to track progress on key points.

Eight years since we launched the campaign, our latest survey, of 1,000 women who’ve experienced miscarriage pregnancy loss in the last three years, reveals a mixed picture when it comes to current standards of care.

It is the fourth survey Mumsnet has run since launching the Better Miscarriage Care campaign in 2011, calling for a five-point code of care with: supportive staff, better access to scanning, safe and appropriate places for treatment, good information and effective treatment, and joined-up care.

The most recent results show that most women (62%) who’ve miscarried in the past three years rate their overall care as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’, compared with the same (62%) in 2016. 17% rated it as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’, compared with 16% in 2016.

However, pain medication and information is still inadequate. 66% of women treated ‘expectantly’ (usually meaning miscarrying at home) said they were not given adequate medication for the pain. 63% said the information they were given either didn’t prepare them for the experience or that they were given no information about pain relief at all – although 32% said that the information they were given about what to expect in terms of pain was clear and helpful.

Waiting times for ‘surgical management of miscarriage’ – the surgical procedure to ensure the miscarriage process is completed – have increased overall since 2016. The number of women waiting four days or more has jumped from 39% to 46%, while the number waiting three days or fewer has fallen from 61% to 53%.

Waiting times for scans have remained steady. 27% say they waited less than four hours for the scan, 10% waited between four and eight hours, and 15% waited between 8 and 24 hours. 21% had to wait three days or more – a very small reduction on the 23% who said last time that they had had to wait this long.

Some miscarrying women are still being treated alongside women with ongoing pregnancies. Of those who were treated in hospital, 58% said they’d waited alongside women with ongoing pregnancies for the scan to confirm their pregnancy loss, 15% were treated on ordinary postnatal or prenatal wards, and 10% were treated alongside women having treatment to terminate unwanted pregnancies. These figures are all similar to those produced by our last survey in 2016.

And follow-up care still isn’t meeting women’s needs. Half (50%) of the women in our survey said they felt the need for follow-up care after miscarrying, and 57% say they think they would have benefitted from counselling. But, of those who felt they needed follow-up care just one third (34%) were offered it; and of those who felt they could benefit from counselling just 18% were offered it. 35% proactively sought follow-up medical care.

Mumsnet Founder and CEO, Justine Roberts, said: “When we launched our campaign we were encouraged to see big improvements in hospital care for women who miscarry, so it’s disappointing to see progress has stalled. Miscarriage, sadly, is a common experience, and our five-point code of care is the very least women deserve.”