As readers of my blog will know, I’m passionate about raising miscarriage awareness, especially among first time parents, as unfortunately miscarriages are far more common than most of us realise.
While to date my wife and I have been extremely lucky to avoid having to go through the immense pain of a miscarriage, after announcing our pregnancy news to the world I have been saddened to learn about a surprisingly large number of friends, family and readers of this blog who haven’t been so fortunate.
Few people, for entirely understandable reasons, ever want to admit that they are having trouble conceiving, let alone that they have had to suffer through the physical and emotional turmoil of a miscarriage. As a result too many couples struggle to find the answers or the support that they need and, instead, end up suffering in silence.
Miscarriage is by far the biggest cause of pregnancy loss in the UK, occurring in nearly 20% of recognised pregnancies (around 200,000 mothers and their partners are affected every year), but at the same time, it’s unfortunately also the least understood.
With 85% of miscarriages taking place in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, new and prospective parents often receive no answers from the medical community when it happens for the first time, as current NHS guidelines mean that they need to endure three consecutive early miscarriages before there is any formal investigation into what has caused them. Adding to the pain, Government funding for miscarriage research is still woefully low.
A new hope for miscarriage sufferers across the UK
And so I was heartened to read that Tommy’s, an amazing UK charity which funds research into the causes of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth, has this week officially opened the UK’s first national research centre (the largest in Europe) dedicated to preventing miscarriage and improving care for affected couples.
The Tommy’s National Early Miscarriage Centre comprises a partnership of three universities – the University of Birmingham, the University of Warwick, and Imperial College London – which will run specialist clinics enabling 24,000 women each year to access treatment and support, as well as participating in Tommy’s essential research studies.
The aim of the centre is to truly understand why miscarriage happens, if it is likely to happen again and how to prevent it, while also seeking to better understand the emotional effects that miscarriages have on women, their partners and loved ones.
What’s more, Tommy’s has been working hard to make miscarriage less of a taboo subject, by encouraging people to share their personal experiences of miscarriage online through their #misCOURAGE campaign – a truly amazing cause, which has received widespread support from mothers and fathers across the country, not to mention the medical and blogging community.
Click here to read some of the heartfelt and, in so many cases, hugely inspirational stories that have been posted as part of the #misCOURAGE campaign so far.
It’s really amazing to know that there is now more support out there for couples that have experienced (or are still experiencing) the pain of miscarriage, and to see how Tommy’s is taking huge steps towards raising the profile of early miscarriage research, while encouraging other organisations to invest in this worthwhile cause.
Hats off to them for all they have achieved so far, and here’s hoping that their significant contribution, research and support can go a long way towards making antenatal care better for all.
For more information about Tommy’s and the incredible work that the charity does, you can read more about them here.
And if you or your partner have suffered a miscarriage and would like to access treatment and support from the Tommy’s National Early Miscarriage Centre, or even participate in one of their research studies, your first step should be to visit your GP. Explain how you are feeling and ask to be referred to one of the aforementioned Tommy’s clinics as soon as possible.
20 weeks and 5 days left to go…
As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject, so if you have any words of support or advice for anyone who has experienced a miscarriage, or if you are a supporter of the #misCOURAGE campaign, please do share your stories and words of wisdom with the group via the comments section below.