health plan must focus on 12k Scots a year who suffer miscarriage
Sunday, September 27, 2021
strategy for women’s health must place serious focus on the estimated 12,000
women who suffer miscarriage in Scotland each year, an expert on female
wellbeing has said.
Scottish Government recently revealed its four-year ‘Women’s Health Plan’ which
includes more paid leave following a miscarriage and the establishing of a
“dignified and compassionate” service.
Kitching, director of Edinburgh-based Baby Fit, said while these moves were
welcome, urgent support was needed for women who up to now have little in the
way of help.
Public Health Observatory estimates at least one in every five pregnancies ends
there were 46,809 births which, by ScotPHO’s projection, means there were
is a personal training business which specialises in providing fitness classes
to women who have recently had a baby.
works with couples attempting to conceive and going through IVF, as well as
women who have suffered miscarriage and are trying again for a baby.
Kitching, director of Baby Fit, said:
says miscarriages are common, but I don’t think current services reflect the
fact there were around 12,000 miscarriages in Scotland last year alone.
my clients have suffered miscarriages, and it’s clear just how alone they’ve
felt throughout that process.
they’ve just been given a tablet to take and sent home, despite that being
among the worst moments of their lives.
women who are further on in their pregnancy and need hospital care sometimes have
to go through the miscarriage on a labour ward where other women are giving
birth to healthy babies in the next room.
from the great work of some charities, there is very little emotional help for
women and their partners going through this awful experience.
definitely welcome that the Scottish Government has recognised this, but it
will need to go beyond paid leave and the promise of better services.
to see urgent action to ensure every woman who suffers a miscarriage can access
the help they need.
this plan Scotland has a chance to be a world-leader in miscarriage care.
sake of thousands of women every year I really hope it happens.”
Case study: Amy Falconer
“It’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to me,”
said Amy Falconer, a magazine account director from Edinburgh.
Even after the safe arrival of her son Rocco in July,
the 38-year-old’s first miscarriage still haunts her.
“There was just no support whatsoever. I was
absolutely traumatised by it, but you just get sent home to deal with it.
You’re completely alone.
“Nobody phones to check on you, no-one makes any
appointments to see if you’re coping or to offer tests to find out what went
“There’s no other part of the health system where
“Once you’ve had a baby, there’s so much help and
support and expertise – but where is that for those who lose one?”
Amy, who had four miscarriages before giving birth
with her fiancé Fraser Rutherford, first fell pregnant in December 2018.
“After about nine weeks things began to change, I
stopped feeling the changes that had happened in the early part of the
“But I was told everything would be ok, not to worry,
basically made to feel like I was just being silly.
“So of course I just kept going, but deep down I knew
something was wrong.
“Two weeks later – it was on Valentine’s Day – I got
an early scan because I’d been spotting. I went in, had the scan, and there was
“I knew the baby had died two weeks ago because all
the symptoms had gone, but here we were.”
Amy feels wider education about miscarriage would
help people discuss the issue more generally.
“No-one knows what to say, so they end up saying
things that are really insensitive, even though they don’t mean it to be, they
mean it to be the opposite,” she explained.
“They say things like ‘oh it just wasn’t meant to be’
which is just the worst thing anyone can say.
“It’s a death of a baby, that’s what it is. But
because we never speak about it as a society, no-one knows how to deal with it.
“I was on a Zoom call not so long ago with five other
women, and four of us had gone through a miscarriage. None of us had known
previously, that was the first time any of us had mentioned it to each other.”
Amy continued: “It’s so traumatic, but after the
third and fourth, I didn’t even tell my family. What was the point?”
Amy’s fourth miscarriage had added complications. It
was an ectopic pregnancy, where the baby grows outside of the womb, a scenario
which means the baby can’t be born safely, and exposes mothers to huge risk
“That was bad because I had to go in for tests every
two days at the Royal Infirmary,” she said.
“Every two days, walking into the labour ward, past
mums who’d just had their babies and people with ‘congratulations’ balloons.
“You’re not telling me in a hospital the size of the
Royal, or any other hospital, that they can’t make sure people going through
something like that are seen in a different place, where they didn’t have to
walk past it all the time. It’s horrific.”
By the time her newborn baby arrived safely, the
couple were scarcely able to believe it had happened.
Amy said: “You just don’t believe it’ll turn out ok.
We were too scared to buy anything; cots, prams, clothes.
“Even after he’d arrived it took us a couple of weeks
to properly process the reality of it all.
“Before I got pregnant for the fifth time, we’d began
talking about alternatives. We spoke about the extra money we would have for
the rest of our lives, and all the extravagant holidays we’d be able to go on.
“We were basically filling our lives up with the
things neither of us actually wanted to do. It’s a life that would have been
void of the one thing we wanted.
“And of course it makes everything so much better
when you’re able to successfully have a baby.
“But that first miscarriage will never, ever leave
Amy added: “As a young woman in your teens and 20s,
you try absolutely everything not to get pregnant.
“Then you settle down, get your life together, and
when the pregnancy doesn’t happen it can be really upsetting.
“And when miscarriage does happen, there’s no support
even when you ask for it.
“The very least women in this situation should get is
an assessment with a professional and access to tests to find out what went
wrong, and psychological help to deal with the death of a baby.”
Notes to editors:
The Scottish Public Health Observatory states: “It is
estimated that approximately one in five of all known pregnancies miscarry. The
figure for all pregnancies will be higher than this because miscarriages can
often occur before the woman is aware she is pregnant.”
There were 46,809 births in Scotland in 2020. Using
the ScotPHO ratio of one in five pregnancies resulting in miscarriage, that
means there will have been at least 11,702 miscarriages.
The full Scottish Government Women’s Health Plan can
be viewed here:
For more information on Baby Fit visit: www.baby-fit.co.uk