Registering the death of a loved one can be part of the grieving process for those coping with the loss, but this phase is not available for those experiencing a miscarriage.
Britain has no miscarriages on a national register, but activists and grieving parents are calling for this to change.
Pregnancy charity, Tommy’s, is urging the government to formally register miscarriages, as it would with other deaths.
CEO Jane Brewin tells HuffPost UK that the current lack of a system is limiting research and adding to the stigma of miscarriages.
“Our research estimates that one in four of us will miscarry at some point in our life – the hundreds of thousands of couples who experience this heartbreak every year – but we don’t currently keep national records of these losses,” she says.
“This means that the extent of the problem is hidden and its resolution is not a priority. Without a benchmark to improve upon, how can we tell if all of our miscarriage prevention efforts are working? The lack of records also reinforces the message that grieving parents hear all too often: that miscarriages are ‘just one of those things’, not to be reported or discussed, shrouded in secrecy and shame. “
According to a new study by the charity, only 29% of the population are aware of this problem, which can increase feelings of isolation after a miscarriage.
“It felt like our miscarriage only existed or mattered to us.”
– Ben and Bophanie Lancaster
Ben Lankester, 37, from London, and his wife Bophanie, 35, support the campaign. They experienced two missed miscarriages in August and December 2020 and were “devastated” when they learned they would not be officially registered or put on their medical records. It added trauma to an already difficult time, they say, because “the loss felt neglected”.
“For parents to experience whatever they saw in their miscarriage – the loss of a pregnancy, a baby, a child, or a dream – and it was not recognized or officially recognized, felt so daunting and as if our experience didn’t matter played. “” they tell HuffPost in a joint email.
“As a grieving couple, it felt like they should be treated like any other death or loss. Instead, we had to stand up for ourselves when we were most vulnerable and people had to correct how many losses we had – without official records, it felt like our miscarriage only existed or mattered only to us. “
Ben and Bophanie Lankester
The couple, who work together at creative studio The Progress Film Company, made a short film entitled “Who Counts?” To raise awareness in the hope that “one day all miscarriages will be counted”.
Until recently, in some parts of England, people only qualified for support and care after three consecutive miscarriages. Tommy has successfully campaigned against this and new RCOG guidelines and NICE guidelines that state that people should have access to help after the first loss.
But the charity believes the changes don’t go far enough. Instead of a government-run registry of miscarriages, the charity has created an online record for everyone who has miscarried in the UK.
“Finding out exactly how many losses are happening in the UK can help speed research, improve care and ultimately save babies’ lives,” says Brewin. “We believe that every loss is one too many and every voice needs to be heard. If you or someone you know has a miscarriage, make sure this is counted by signing our new loss record. “
- Sands works to support anyone affected by a baby’s death.
- Tommy funds research into miscarriages, stillbirths, and premature births and provides parents with information on pregnancy health.
- Saying Goodbye offers support to anyone who has lost a baby during pregnancy, childbirth or infancy.