Scottish Daily Mail
Silent guilt of women who suffer miscarriage
MANY women who miscarry their baby feel so ashamed they can’t even talk to their husband about it, research has revealed.
Friends are also often shut out and it is common to feel a failure.
The baby charity Tommy’s said that with one in four pregnancies ending in miscarriage, the condition should no longer be taboo. It also wants women who miscarry to be referred for tests earlier.
Under current guidance, a woman must suffer three miscarriages in a row before she is entitled to specialist help.
A survey of more than 5,500 women who have had a miscarriage found that 70 per cent felt guilty and 79 per cent felt like a failure.
Some 67 per cent said they could not talk to their best friend and 35 per cent did not feel they could share their pain with the baby’s father.
Jane Brewin, Tommy’s chief executive, said fear that the issue will be trivialised by those ignorant of the facts leaves many women too ashamed to talk about it. But by bottling up their feelings, they could be increasing their odds of depression.
Those who do confide in others are often hurt by comments that were intended to be of comfort, including ‘it wasn’t a real baby’.
Miss Brewin said: ‘Every woman when she is pregnant is having a real baby, not a bundle of cells or a foetus.’
She said it was sad to think that so many women find it difficult to talk to their baby’s father and added: ‘The silence that surrounds miscarriage makes it difficult for women to be open about the wide range of reactions they might be experiencing.’
Emma Benjamin, a 34-year-old chartered accountant from Hertfordshire, has lost five babies and believes talking helps.
She said: ‘I felt so confused and isolated and thought sharing my experience might make another woman feel less so. In the beginning, I felt such a sense of failure, like it must be my fault. I believe that’s a big part of the reason that women don’t talk about miscarriage, it feels almost like a source of shame.’
Rosie Houston, a nurse from North London, has had four miscarriages and is now five months pregnant.
Tests revealed an under-active thyroid gland could be at the root of the problem.
The 33-year-old said: ‘The first time I had a positive pregnancy test I was ecstatic but I’ve never had that feeling again. Four miscarriages have stolen that innocent joy.’
Since finding out about her current pregnancy ‘anxiety has been constant’, Mrs Houston said. ‘If I don’t feel movement for a few hours, I’m on edge. I don’t think I’ll truly relax until I have the baby in my arms.
‘Losing a baby at any stage of pregnancy is traumatic and all you really want to hear is “I’m so sorry”.’
The NHS says the majority of miscarriages are not caused by anything the mother has done and most are likely to be due to genetic faults in the unborn baby.
Tommy’s will open Britain’s first national miscarriage research centre next spring and today launches its #misCOURAGE campaign to encourage people to talk about miscarriage.
THE lives of up to 600 babies a year could be saved if the NHS did more to prevent stillbirths, an official inquiry is expected to say on Thursday.
The Department of Health in London commissioned Oxford University to carry out the audit of ‘term stillbirths’ – those that occur when the baby is fully developed. It is expected to find that about half of the 1,200 that occur each year in the UK could be avoided.
Stillbirth charity Sands says midwives and hospitals are failing to spot when a baby is in danger and not acting when they do. It wants women and their unborn babies to be monitored more closely.
Britain has one of the highest rates of stillbirth – which occurs later in pregnancy than miscarriage – in the West, with one in every 200 babies dying after 24 weeks of pregnancy.
‘I felt confused and isolated’