In 2015, Tommy’s conducted a survey involving over 6,000 women and birthing people, shedding light on the stark realities surrounding miscarriage. The findings were disheartening, as over 80% of respondents who had experienced miscarriage were met with phrases like “it wasn’t meant to be,” often from friends, family members, or colleagues.
Fast forward eight years, and as we approach Baby Loss Awareness Week in 2023 (October 9-15), Tommy’s posed the same questions to nearly 2,000 people, gauging whether attitudes had shifted. The results suggest that while some progress has been made, there is still much work to be done to provide the necessary support for those dealing with miscarriage.
Back in 2015, Tommy’s launched the ‘misCOURAGE’ campaign to raise awareness about the prevalent misunderstandings surrounding miscarriage. They firmly believe that miscarriage should not be brushed off as “just one of those things.” To support this cause, Tommy’s established the UK’s first National Centre for Miscarriage Research. Since then, this centre has made significant strides in research, leading to vital breakthroughs, such as the use of progesterone to save thousands of babies’ lives each year.
Despite the tireless work of Tommy’s and other organisations in raising awareness and media attention to miscarriage, attitudes still need a considerable overhaul. While 61% of respondents in the latest survey believed that attitudes toward miscarriage had evolved, the statistics reveal that:
- 78% of individuals felt like a failure after miscarriage, mirroring the 2015 figure.
- 71% still experienced feelings of guilt, a decrease of just 6%.
- 59% found it difficult to discuss their miscarriage, showing only a slight decline from 2015.
- 29% felt unable to confide in their partners for support, though this number has reduced since 2015.
However, one of the most significant changes observed in the past eight years is the way miscarriage is treated in the workplace. In the recent survey, 68% of people who had experienced a miscarriage reported sharing their experience with their boss, compared to just 55% before 2015. Additionally, 40% of respondents disclosed their miscarriage to their colleagues, a category that wasn’t included in the 2015 survey.
Tommy’s has actively worked to influence businesses in developing pregnancy and loss policies, ensuring that pregnancy loss is better understood and that employees and partners receive the flexible support they deserve. This effort is making a difference, with more businesses signing up for Tommy’s Pregnancy and Parenting at Work training and resource package. The tide is turning, bringing greater openness, and understanding in the workplace for the approximately 200,000 people in the UK who experience miscarriage every year.
Amina Hatia, Tommy’s Midwifery Manager, provides crucial advice for those who want to support someone dealing with miscarriage. She says ““We know how difficult it is to find the right words or actions to respond when you hear from a loved one, a friend, or perhaps a colleague, that they have had a miscarriage.
“People instinctively turn to cliches to find a silver lining, but they rarely help. Many people will feel like parents from the second they see the line on a positive test – they don’t want to hear about ‘next time’ or that ‘it wasn’t meant to be’. A new baby or pregnancy does not replace the one who was lost.
“Most importantly, remember that you don’t have to have an answer, or an explanation. Everyone is different and it’s important to let people grieve the way they want to. Sometimes people aren’t looking for advice about what they can do. They just need someone to listen to how they feel.
“You may worry that if you don’t know what to say or think then it’s best not to say anything, but the simple act of acknowledging someone’s loss can really help. Just let them know that you’re sorry for what has happened and that you are there for them. Saying sorry and that you are there to listen can be enough.
“Simply asking ‘how are you doing?’ can mean the world – it can be very difficult to know if someone wants to talk about a painful event. If they don’t want to talk about it, they will let you know, but try not to let this fear stop you from asking.”
For more information and further survey results, please see here: https://www.tommys.org/about-us/news-views/survey-shows-slow-shift-changing-attitudes-miscarriage