Miscarriage is common (somewhere around one in three pregnancies are believed to end this way) and its impacts are widespread. For the expectant dad or spouse, it’s a bereavement that they have to cope with while also trying to support their partner. For family and friends, it’s a sudden sadness, and often a reminder of their own experiences with pregnancy loss. For the expectant mother, it’s both a period of grief and - often - a really difficult physical and medical experience.
The A&E doctor said, "don't be silly, you were barely pregnant if it was only 7 weeks."
Scientific researchers and healthcare workers are doing their best to uncover some of the most common causes of miscarriage. It’s to be hoped that as time goes by the rate of pregnancy loss will fall as scientific advancements are made. But right now, the one thing we can ask for is that all parents going through this deeply painful experience receive really good, compassionate healthcare that recognises the physical and emotional impacts. That’s what Mumsnet’s Better Miscarriage Care campaign is all about.
Why didn’t I complain? I’ve had six miscarriages. I know that the care at my hospital is always like this.
Better Miscarriage Care is Mumsnet’s most longstanding campaign. It’s the very first thing we took up on our users’ behalf, way back in 2009, after thousands of searing discussions on Mumsnet among women who felt horribly let down at one of the most difficult moments of their lives. Drawing on our users’ experiences, we developed the five-point Code of Care. These are the principles that we think all miscarriage healthcare should live up to.
1. Supportive staff
Staff who are routinely involved in caring for miscarrying women should be trained in communication and listening skills. Women should be routinely offered follow-up appointments and/or counselling.
2. Access to scanning
Scans (particularly when they’re clinically indicated) should be carried out promptly. Early pregnancy units should be open seven days a week. Where no early pregnancy unit is available, hospital trusts should have portable scanning equipment and trained staff in A&E.
3. Safe and appropriate places for treatment
Women who are miscarrying should not be cared for directly alongside women having routine antenatal and postnatal care, or women having terminations for unwanted pregnancies. Waiting times for surgery must be kept to a minimum.
4. Good information and effective treatment
Women should be provided with clear, sympathetic and honest explanations of available treatments and procedures, and appropriate prescription pain relief.
4. Joined-up care
Primary healthcare teams must be informed when miscarriage has occurred; no woman should be ‘chased’ for missed antenatal appointments. GPs and midwives in primary care should know when a patient has a history of miscarriage.
We were left waiting in reception for ages, and were not offered a scan of any description. I was told several times that I was not actually pregnant. I was sent home and fully miscarried there, 24 hours later.
Every two years we carry out a survey of women who have experienced pregnancy loss, to see how well the NHS is living up to these principles.
Differing standards between hospital trusts in miscarriage care is absolutely staggering. I have known incredibly caring, professional and competent care - and also the complete opposite.