Mumsnet Campaign for Better Miscarriage Care
‘How is the new Mummy this morning then?’.
The words could not have hurt more. I turned my head away from the breakfast bearing hospital auxiliary. She had obviously not been informed that I was on the labour ward for a D&C, not to give birth.
Was it not enough that I had to see heavily pregnant women waddle down the corridor ahead of me, hear their puffing and groaning, and later hear the cries of their newborn babies in neighbouring rooms? On leaving the ward later that morning, I looked at my feet rather than into the excited eyes of flower laden fathers, on their way to visit their new families.
The nightmare had begun just 24 hours earlier. ‘Oh, dear. It looks like the baby has stopped developing about a week ago. Never mind. Nothing can be done. Just one of those things. Have you had much for breakfast?… No? Good, we shall have you into the hospital this afternoon for a D&C. Speak to the girl at the reception desk, she will tell you all the details. I will see you later”.
With these words, I was ushered out of the gynaecologist’s office. I stood in the hall of the practice, my face white and covered in tears. The women waiting in the reception room averted their gaze, desperate not to be in my shoes, even in their imagination. With a flurry of movement, the receptionist took charge, taking me into a small room, handing me tissues and a glass of water. Showing compassion and empathy where her boss had shown none.
Later that day, once Nurse Hatchet had tried and failed several times to take blood, leaving my arm looking like a pin cushion, I was left a pair of surgical stockings and pretty much forgotten about. My husband and I sat in a silent room, holding hands as he tried to comfort me. When they came to take me to theatre, they realised that no one had given me the promised sedative but it was too late, and I was already upset. So upset that the anaesthetist had to give me a higher than usual dose to put me under.
I awoke as I had gone under. Sobbing. This time in a lift with two nurses. “It is what she wanted” – I misheard, they were commenting on the fact that I had so wanted the baby, but in my addled state, I understood that they were judging me for having a termination. I tried to say that I had wanted my baby, but they pushed me onward through the corridors to my room.
Miscarriage is a loss. A loss of a baby, of the future that the parents were already planning, of the hopes and dreams for the baby’s future. Of a whole life.
It is also something that happens to more women than you might think. But no one talks about it. And few complain about the treatment that they received.
My story happened in Germany almost 10 years ago, but it could have taken place last week in a hospital in UK.
The parenting website Mumsnet recently conducted a survey and found:
- Nearly two thirds (63%) of women who miscarried at home following a hospital scan said they weren’t offered adequate pain relief
- Over a fifth of women referred for a scan (21%) had to wait three or more days
- Of those Mumsnetters treated in hospital, nearly half (48%) were treated alongside pregnant women
- Over a third (35%) of those who required a surgical procedure following miscarriage had to wait four or more days
- 15% of Mumsnetters who were treated in hospital rated their consultant’s sympathy and compassionÂ as ‘awful’
- A fifth (19%) of respondents dealt with their miscarriage at home, only alerting medical staff after the event
- Over a quarter of those who had information from healthcare staff (29%) rated the information they received as ‘poor’ or ‘inadequate’
- More than one in 10 (11%) women didn’t tell family and friends about their miscarriage
I went on to have a second miscarriage, but in a different hospital. The care was so much better, the staff empathetic and warm. I recall the anaesthetist fetching a blanket when he realised that I was shivering. He patted my hand as I fell asleep.
The difference in recovery time was no surprise.
Women I have talked to have made it clear – no miscarriage is a walk in the park, but if it is sensitively handled then the emotional scars are easier to bear. It is enough that we have lost our babies, why should we be further traumatised by the treatment by medical staff?
This week I will join other Mumsnet Bloggers to help raise awareness of the campaign. We will post our own experiences, and those of others. Please join us in passing this on to as many people as you can think of. Help us make it better for future pregnant women.
Broadly, we would like you to:
- Email your MP to ask him or her to sign the Early Day Motion
- Email Andrew Lansley, secretary of state for health, to let him know that you want the government to act on miscarriage care
- Email your local paper – challenge your local hospitals and trusts to get involved
- Contact the maternity services liaison committee of your NHS Primary Care Trust
- Share this on your Facebook page, if you have one, and tweet about our campaign with hashtag #miscarriagecare
ADD LINK TO YOUR BLOG AND FIND OTHER BLOGGERS WHO ARE TAKING PART IN THE CAMPAIGN, BY CLICKING ON THE LINK :
Bloggers: add your blog post to the link list then grab the code and post it on your blog.
If you are in need of advice on miscarriage of baby loss, these organisations may be a help to you:
SANDS – Still birth and neo-natal death
Brought tears to my eyes. I was treated better 42 years ago. At least I was in a gynae ward not a maternity ward. Good campaign.
As you say, good care makes a massive amount of difference to how we deal with this and probably other sensitive issues.
I’m so sorry about what happened to you. You’re right that very few women complain. Often I think you are so staggered and wounded by the whole experience, you can’t. And by the time you can, you’re probably trying to get pregnant again, and want to concentrate on that baby.
Yes, absolutely. Once time has past, very few want to go back and relive that terrible time. I have found writing about it quite cathartic.
I am so sorry for your experience of this. I know of so many people who have had similar experiences, being treated on a labour ward shouldn’t happen, it is so cruel.
Oh my goodness – just awful.
It stays with you too doesn’t it.
Thanks for kicking off the campaign. x
Thanks for joining in.
I hadn’t thought about it for years until I agreed to write about it for the campaign. Is not a bad thing to do so though, and my children will get extra hugs tonight.
Thanks for sharing your story MmeL, had a bit cry 🙁
I have been doing a fair bit of crying today. But good to get it out there.
Thanks for sharing your story. Not sure if I could have been strong enough to do so.
The fact that I went on to have two beautiful children helps, and the time that has passed. It has been over 10 years since I had my first miscarriage.
Oh, that made me well up. Awful, awful, awful. Let’s hope our stories make a difference
I hope that they give a face to the campaign, showing people that these things are happening to normal women, all over the country every single day.
Very Bored in Catalunya
So sorry to read your story, and I am surprised at some of the statistics you list.
Sadly it’s not just the UK that treats miscarrying women so badly. I’ve had two in Spain and the insensitivity was the just the worst. In fact this pregnancy I was convinced at 6 weeks that I was losing the baby and was upset that I had a midwife appointment that day, because I would have just stayed home and dealt with it myself rather than go through the situation I had to before.
I’ll add my story to the linky tomorrow.
Sorry to hear that your experience in Spain was not better. It is awful that you would rather go through it at home than seek out a midwife.
Thanks for adding your voice.
The Mad House
I have already done a couple of posts about my M/c’s. I will link, but can not find it
Reassuring to hear your second experience was better than your first. The memories always stay with you though. What surprises me is how long women have had these difficult experiences for and nothing seems to be done to address them. Care seems to be all about what suits the medical staff and set-up and very little in the interests of the woman who’s lost her pregnancy. Thank you for organising this blogging event, hopefully it will raise awareness.
Jane, one of the bloggers linked to below, wrote that she campaigned for change 17 years ago and still nothing has changed.
I just read Old River House’s blogpost and it resonated with me. I am lucky enough to be mum to a healthy 4 year old girl but I should have given birth to her brother or sister today. Unfortunately, I lost our baby at 11 weeks. As Old River House said, I can’t imagine having another easy-going pregnancy as I did with my first. I could never relax and enjoy it as I did with my darling girl. We’re trying for another and I really don’t know how I’d cope if it happened again.
I am so sorry for your loss, Marie and wish you luck for the future.
We had two miscarriages before going on to have our daughter, and it was always a worry. My husband would say, “after the scan is before the scan” because we never truly relaxed.
I totally forgot. TOTALLY forgot until now about the fxxxxxg bxxxxh at the reception in the EPAU who, when I walked in crying, trying to get myself together for the scan that I knew would confirm bad news, barely kept her contempt to herself whilst she waited for me to get myself together to tell her my name. The rest of the staff at the Royal Surrey were incredibly – she was utterly unsuited to her job and shockingly unsympathetic.
That is terrible. Those moments stay with you forever, don’t they?
This is seriously shocking stuff. I’m sorry to say that my recent experiences suggest that things haven’t moved on nearly as much as they should. A little sensitivity goes a long way…
It makes me so sad to read yours and all the other stories here. Thank you for giving us the space to talk about our experiences. Only by being open and honest about the issues can we bring about any change. BM x