Scottish Daily Mail

Silent guilt of women who suf­fer mis­car­riage

- By Fiona MacRae Science Ed­i­tor

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’

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