There is a disturbing lack of attention and information given to those who have gone through miscarriages, with it affecting men and women in different ways, according to a new report conducted by the universities of Bristol and Birmingham.
Death Before Birth examined the experiences of women who had suffered from early pregnancy loss. It found that while care was improving in many places, not enough was being done to inform women of their options and provide an adequate level of support.
Around 20% of pregnancies in the UK end in miscarriages, with almost 700 babies a day lost during pregnancy, birth or infancy. The report claims that, despite this, child loss remains a woefully under-supported issue. One of its main criticisms is that not enough information was being provided about how to dispose of pregnancy remains, which made already vulnerable women more distressed.
Author of the report, Dr Danielle Fuller, said: ‘When families don't know all the options, they can't make informed decisions – the chance to acknowledge the loss is important.’
There are currently a number of ways in which remains can be disposed of – such as cremation, burial and incineration – but many women are not aware of all the options and feel a lack of support in the decision making process, according to the report.
The report recommends that women are given the full and complete range of choices available to them, that informational material be distributed more effectively to raise awareness and a mandatory discussion of disposal options as part of pregnancy loss care.
Talking of disposal options, a spokesperson from the Human Tissue Authority said that they ‘must reflect the woman’s own circumstances, values, understandings, and beliefs'.
While this recognition is very welcome, many professionals point out that little attention has been paid to the ways in which early pregnancy loss also affects men. Another survey, carried out by the Mariposa Trust, got almost 200 men who had experiences of baby loss to share their experiences.
It found that almost three-quarters of men wanted more support through their loss and 63% said that medical staff only acknowledged the loss of their partner and not theirs. Clearly, baby loss is a traumatic experience for all involved but the lack of information and care provided to women, and the lack of attention paid to men can increase suffering for both.
Almost half of men surveyed reported a strain in their relationship as a result of their baby loss, with 1 in 5 saying they grieved differently than their partners. More support is needed, for both men and women, in situations of baby loss. But, this support must be distributed equally, rather than treating both parents differently, which places strain on the relationship as a whole.