Three miscarriage rule before receiving help is unacceptable, says MP

An MP who miscarried her first child last year says women should not have to endure three miscarriages before receiving support, before a debate on the subject in parliament.

Olivia Blake, the MP for Sheffield Hallam, spoke in parliament last year about going to A&E on her own in early pregnancy while her partner had to wait in the car due to Covid restrictions. She described the isolating experience of “being unable to have a hug or someone to hold my hand or support me on hearing the news that I was having a miscarriage”.

Afterwards, she launched a successful campaign calling for a rule change, so that partners could attend maternity appointments during the pandemic.

She has secured an adjournment debate in parliament on Thursday on the lack of support available for women experiencing miscarriages.

Currently, women are only entitled to support or care after their third miscarriage. Campaigners say that even then, the quality and availability of support is hugely varying, with large numbers of women left without any mental or physical support at all.

The debate will discuss the Lancet’s 2021 series on miscarriage – which calls for a “complete rethink of the narrative around miscarriage and a comprehensive overhaul of medical care and advice offered to women who have miscarriages”. The report concludes that help should be offered after every miscarriage, increasing each time if it happens again.

Blake said: “It is unacceptable that women are having to endure three miscarriages before receiving any support. This complete lack of care is a huge problem – the scale of which is only just being uncovered.

“I’ve spoken to so many people over the past six months – who reached out to me after I shared my own experience – and heard so many appalling stories of women at their wits’ end being turned away, told they hadn’t had ‘enough’ miscarriages to receive support, or in some parts of the country, unable to receive support at all.

“It isn’t easy speaking about miscarriage – which is in part why we haven’t seen enough change. But with the recent Lancet report shining a much-needed light on the scale of the crisis – the government now has no excuse not to act. I really hope my debate today will firmly put this on the ministers’ agenda. The up-and-coming Women’s Health Strategy must be used to reform miscarriage care to ensure everyone, in every part of England, receives care and support after every miscarriage.”

Dr Phoebe Pallotti, a practising midwife and director of Sheffield Maternity Cooperative, which has been working with Blake, said: “As a senior academic in maternity, I know that the care for women and people experiencing miscarriage is often patchy and inconsistent, with little regard for psychological wellbeing and, crucially, with no one specialist service taking responsibility for care.

“This has to change to reduce physical and mental morbidity in reproductive health in the UK. As a midwife, I have seen the devastating effects that pregnancy loss can have on families and how these experiences can negatively impact future pregnancies. As a mother and someone who has experienced miscarriage I feel how important timely, appropriate and sensitive care is – my own experiences being unfortunately the opposite of this – in achieving a full mental and physical recovery.”

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