My Musings


Question (noun): A sentence worded or expressed so as to elicit information

Genuine question: If you’ve ever had a miscarriage, has any medical professional (in a formal setting) ever asked you any questions about it? Whether anything seemed to bring on the bleeding? What you’d been doing or eating in the week preceding it? Anything that seemed like they were logging information with respect to miscarriage research?

I’ve NEVER had anyone ask me, anything. I’ve just been told that I’m miscarrying and sent home. So how are they doing their research into the causes etc of miscarriage? (For my first trimester miscarriages I wasn’t even given any information regarding where to go for emotional support, I was just told how to medically manage them, what to expect in the physical regard – nothing to do with the mental repercussions, as if telling me “miscarriage is common” was supposed to deal with that aspect. Err if it’s so common, so should the support be!).

We know that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, but do we really know much more than that? That statistic is not research by the way: that’s just counting. So given that we’ve so many case studies, why not conduct some research? There are so many women in desperate need of answers.

I think I know why they don’t question women after they’ve had a miscarriage, it’s probably because they don’t want the women to blame themselves. If they gave you a list of boxes to tick, it might give you “ideas” or “suggestions” about some of the things you might have done “wrong”.

But here’s the thing:

  • Lots of women will blame themselves anyway
  • Lots of women would like there to be more information about why miscarriage happens
  • Lots of women will want to stop this happening (again or) to others

So this is why research is required. And I do think it’s something that could be broached sensitively. For example, medical staff could give out voluntary questionnaires, though perhaps not straight away. Or they could follow up with a call shortly afterwards, or ask women if they would be willing to be asked some questions about their miscarriage, at a later date. Surely where there’s a will, there’s a way?

I realise that this might result in a biased pool of information: it’s self-selecting, right? Doctors may assume that only the women who considered themselves “well behaved” would respond e.g. only those who didn’t drink alcohol or take prohibited drugs throughout their pregnancies. Or they might think that women might be inclined to lie, but isn’t that always the case when gathering data? Also, please give us more credit.

Even if they did only collect data from a biased group, so what? These women still had miscarriages too. Surely some information is better than no information? Perhaps questioning a women is considered far too subjective, anecdotal perhaps. But it’s only anecdotal, until it becomes a pattern. If a pattern is deemed worthy of a medical study, it may eventually result in proof of a new concept.

It feels like such a missed opportunity: there’s so much information yet no one is gathering the data.

If you have thoughts or knowledge to the contrary (I may well be missing the point here, or I may be completely oblivious to all the research that is going on), please feel free to enlighten me. Because I’ve sadly and genuinely, come to believe that doctors just think that babies need to make it to 24 weeks, pretty much, by themselves. At that point, it’s worth them intervening, but before that, they don’t really believe in the reality of a baby. I don’t mean this to sound harsh with respect to the doctors. In lots of ways, I have sympathy with them: there really is only so much they can do. A baby does need to get so far along to survive outside the womb. But I also think it’s why medical professionals are so numb to loss. It’s not just because they see it every day and it’s “common”, it’s because they’ve already trained their brains to believe that a baby needs to get to a specific point, say, 24 weeks.

So let’s retrain the brains. Let’s remember that these are people’s babies and though the odds may be stacked against them, the odds are there to be beaten. Let’s improve the odds. Let’s stop accepting that miscarriage is common, and really find out why why WHY that’s the case.

Dear Doctor, miscarriage may be common to YOU, but it’s not to US. Yes, we have become the 1 in 4, but we are people, not a mere statistic. We are women, we are families, we are someone’s child. We had hopes, we had dreams. So I repeat: it may be common to you, but it is not for us. This is not something we saw happening every day, but it is something we now – regrettably –  have to live, every single day. So let’s stop accepting the unacceptable. Let’s improve that statistic, so that other pregnancies don’t become one too.

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(3) Comments

  1. Laura says:

    Couldn’t agree more with this, it’s exactly how I feel even though no doubt I wouldn’t express it so eloquently.

    I know medical professionals in difficult settings have to anaesthetise themselves (sorry) to some extent to go about their day jobs without constantly breaking down, but there is a notable lack of empathy in my experience.

    From no segregation in EPU for women receiving the bad news not the good news, to the ‘it’s very common’ line (SURE, but vets even don’t even say that when your cat dies) to the old ‘there’s normally no reason’ (WHY? Everything in your body happens for a reason. Would you accept that if your teeth kept falling out?) and then the arbitrary number of 3 losses before they will undertake the most basic research.

    When I was referred to the recurrent miscarriage consultant at my hospital in my last pregnancy she said ‘technically you shouldn’t be here, you haven’t had three in a row’. And a close friend whose second miscarriage was an ectopic pregnancy was told it ‘didn’t count’ towards the total. It makes me so angry that we accept this treatment.

    Hope you are well today and wishing you huge good luck for your surgery. I’ve now worked myself into rage so going for a cup of tea 🙂 xx

  2. Claudia says:


    Ok, I know Charlie was not a miscarry. BUT the mentality of “you only need checking if there is something wrong and only then we might look into it” instead of doing what you can to prevent possible miscarriages or losses is something that I will never understand.
    Like you, I understand the numbers. What they fail to understand is the impact they have on women and families.

    Sending you a big hug xx

  3. Claire says:

    Anj. The real problem here I think is that the medical profession are guilty of just being too numb…all the time. They have completely lost sight of the huge human cost of miscarriage. Miscarriage is too common and the way that women are spoken to and the way miscarriage is dealt with honestly leaves me cold. I mean to not routinely give women information on where they can get support after going through this – I mean seriously??!!
    That being said, (I am not an academic) but if I were going to conduct a study into the causes of miscarriage, I would not go about it this way. You are 100% right in that I would be incredibly concerned about the feelings of guilt you might evoke (and that might be a reason why you wouldn’t get ethical approval to conduct such research) but ultimately the research would be flawed. As miscarriage is so common, you don’t need to do research like this. I would do a cohort study where you could, for example, follow a very large group of women who are TTC and ask them to fill in questionnaires about behaviour etc (in fact cohort studies are normally so large you would look at loads of different common conditions, and not just limit it to one) and then use that to look at possible causes of miscarriage. It is still biased but said bias is greatly reduced. Retrospective studies are generally fairly low quality so you only use them where conditions are quite rare and other forms of research aren’t possible.
    In terms of what research is being done, I really really hope there is a huge amount of research going into this area. It pains me to say, that considering how common miscarriage is, I really doubt there is a proportionate amount of research when compared to other conditions but that is where you, and I and everyone who follows this blog along with other incredible loss mums and some amazing charities are trying to raise the necessary awareness and break down those taboos for the necessary research to take place.

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