Mumsnet Miscarriage Care Campaign (Is it enough?)

Straight off, let’s be clear, I am 100% behind the Mumsnet Miscarriage Care campaign… Time and again we work with parents who have been treated with such a lack of compassion ,that quite frankly, it is inhumane.

As Mumsnet point out from their own surveys:

  • Half of all women treated for miscarriage are treated alongside women with ongoing pregnancies.
  • 58% of women wanted support or counselling after miscarriage but only 12% received it.
  • Only 23% of women who miscarried spoke about it to their friends.

Read here for the other 4 shocking facts

BUT, and sorry there is a but, as admirable as the Mumsnet campaign is (and it is) they are still missing something important. WHAT ABOUT THE DADS?

sad dadDads are almost completely ignored when it comes to miscarriage, it is almost as if we are non-existent: there is no support, no offer of counselling, no real recognition that it would impact on us. There does need to be recognition that a miscarriage is the loss of our child too, and we are going through a grieving process as well.



I will never forget the class I ran where, whilst we were dealing with men’s fears, one dad suddenly piped up about suffering another miscarriage and his fear about losing another child. His ‘secret’ that he had not been able to open up about before was that he was refusing to bond with his unborn baby as he didn’t feel he could go through the complete despair and sense of loss again. Before I knew it, I had three dads sharing their experiences, all having suffered one or more miscarriages. What became obvious was these dads had never before spoken about their trauma before, had received no support or recognition that they may be grieving, and this wasn’t just from medical staff but also family and friends. Being able to share their experiences with other dads that had gone through it was at once both emotional but also such a relief for them.

Dads also need someone to talk to, some of us need counselling, ignoring this is potentially harmful not just to the men affected, but also to their families. Miscarriage can have such a devastating impact, leading to further complications – from depression to suicide, from resentment to relationship breakdowns, and the list goes on.

If anyone is any doubt of the huge impact miscarriage has on dads then read this piece that was published on Dadzclub from two dads.

So what would I like to say, firstly Mumsnet have published their 5 things that need to change, I support all of them BUT, yes there it is again a but, to really make their campaign as far-reaching as possible, I would like the wording to be more inclusive of all parents. I know I speak mainly from a dads perspective but I include same-sex partners in this as well. We should do everything to treat the family as compassionately as possible, counselling and support should be offered to both parents.

There is absolutely no point in offering support and counselling for one parent and ignoring the other… Families where this happens will in many cases be left dealing with silent, secret grief; with the ramifications for the grieving parent who has not been acknowledged nor received any specific support, impacts on family life & relationships for weeks, months and possibly even years to come.

Mums, Dads and families deserve better than this – we need better care for any parent affected by miscarriage loss.


5 thoughts on “Mumsnet Miscarriage Care Campaign (Is it enough?)

  1. Such a good point well made. There is so little support for fathers, and they’re also expected to support and protect the mothers while trying to understand their own grief. At the birth of their first children a male colleague’s twin died, such a difficult time. I was very aware how little support personally there was for him, just expected to get back to work.

  2. Hi!

    I took part in one of your daddynatal classes back in October and at the time you asked all of us expectant dads if we were going through our first pregnancy. We all said that this was our first pregnancy. I don’t know about the other participants but I lied. It was my wife’s second pregnancy, with the first one ending in stillbirth back in February. It’s a horrible thing to go through, something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I guess I didn’t pipe up about it because I assumed that all the other dads-to-be there wouldn’t like to be made feel stressed or anxious about something that only has a 0.5 % chance of happening. It would have been good FOR ME to talk about it then, but I didn’t because I wasn’t sure it was good for the five or so other blokes in the room. Now the second pregnancy ended well and we’re happily parents now to a beautiful little girl but your post did get me thinking about this whole issue about how to prep expectant parents about the horrors of miscarriage/stillbirth.

    I feel like the sentiment that I had on that day of not wanting to be a downer amongst all these hopeful parents is partially at the root of the problem. What I’ve learned during my wife’s two pregnancies is that doctors and midwives don’t want to talk to couples going through pregnancy about the possibility of miscarriage/stillbirth. Any fears are always treated with a casual “Don’t worry, it’s extremely unlikely to happen anyway” response. It comes across as dismissive of all the families who go through it, even if the purpose is to keep pregnant women from panicking unnecessarily. This gives the tiny percentage of parents who do go through a miscarriage or stillbirth NO PREPERATION whatsoever. You’re prepped for pregnancy, for labour, for breastfeeding, for poop etc…Essentially, a tiny percentage of parents are sacrificed for the sake of the greater majority, because doctors and midwives don’t want to stress parents who are anxious enough as it is already. Now a very reasonable point could be made that essentially there just isn’t any way to prep parents for something that horrendous, that it’s going to blindside you regardless. But it doesn’t take away from the feeling that my wife and I had that people like us are just an inconvenient topic that is too awkward to properly discuss. This mentality unfortunately trickles down from the doctors and midwives to the eventual victims such as us, who feel awkward bringing it up for fear of “spoiling” an occasion or upsetting somebody. It needs to stop and the solution can’t just simply be that families having gone through stillbirths need to be encouraged to talk through their painful experiences. How can we when the world around us, especially the professionals (doctors, midwives) we put our trust in, are even more scared to talk about it than we are?

    After our stillbirth we chose not to get any further counselling from the NHS because the bereavement counsellor offered to us at the hospital came across as somebody too laid back focusing on trying to cheer us up while passing loads of leaflets. Maybe that style works on some but it really did not inspire confidence in us about the NHS’s ability to help us so we just returned home to grieve. We did so for a few months before my wife decided, very bravely I might add, that she wanted to try for a baby again. The best medicine for losing a baby in stillbirth is a successful pregnancy afterwards and thankfully that’s what happened with us (should be noted that it does not take away all the pain, our stillborn baby will never be replaced, but it does help¬). But I’m certain that not all couples who went through the same tragedy we did will be as fortunate and they need help even more that we do. It’s a difficult question, how much do you invest or what do you change in the system for such a small percentage of people? Maybe we were too harsh to judge the whole of the NHS based on one bereavement counsellor but it’s not really possible to be fully rational at that stage and it’s important to have the right type of people helping you right from the start. We shouldn’t have to search for them until the right one shows up. All the pain my wife and I went through has made me none the wiser on this issue and I don’t know what solution would be the right one. I just know that those few of us who do go through miscarriage/stillbirth get a raw deal, and that we don’t feel like a proper support system exists. But the biggest question for me is, is it possible to even build one?

    • This is so true. After experiencing a miscarriage, we wanted to talk to the midwife about how to manage the practical side of it at home if it were to ever happen again, because we’d had a pretty awful experience in hospital. But all we got from her was “It’s very unlikely to happen again. Just because it happened once doesn’t make it more likely in the future.” Obviously we knew this because she’d already said it at least three times, we just wanted some practical advice just in case, but she wouldn’t talk about it. Even though we’d just had that awful experience, she didn’t want to talk about the possibility of another miscarriage as if she was afraid that the mere mention of it would make it happen. It was immensely frustrating.

      I’m sure there are health professionals out there who don’t react in this way, and who are comfortable discussing this topic. But it’s very hard on the people who fall between the cracks and don’t get the support they need. It’s also very hard to believe that miscarriage is unlikely to have been caused by anything the parent has done when you’re constantly told by healthcare professionals and loved ones alike to “think positive”, as if that is going to prevent a future miscarriage. Of course the reality is that if it’s going to happen then it will, no matter how positively you try to think. Just another piece of baggage to add to the guilt wagon I guess.

  3. Hi, my bother and future sister in law has had 2 miscarriages so far and expecting another one now. The first miscarriage hurt my whole family along with the second one in a row but more so my brother and future sister in law even though they had mine and her family.They still fear it will happen again.
    I don’t know if they had been offered counselling but from what i could tell they hadn’t. Now that they are expecting another one and they are scared that it will happen again but they are not telling us.
    My brother isnt not very oh whats the right… envolved mentally speaking which isn’t very good. Each one has made it very hard for my brother to talk about the pregancy and he isn’t the sort of bloke that speaks about his feelings at the best of times which is a shame really but i respect my younger brother never the less.

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