'When you hear there is no heartbeat, where do you go after that?'
Following Myleene Klass's successful lobbying to change UK miscarriage laws, ITV News Social Affairs Correspondent Stacey Foster reports on a pioneering hospital trial
Following the successful campaign by Myleene Klass to change the rules on how women are cared for when they lose a pregnancy before 24 weeks, she invited us to spend the morning with her at Birmingham Women’s Hospital where a pilot scheme of care is underway.
Here, you don’t need to have had three miscarriages to qualify for support.
This is what Myleene has wanted since she was told that she needed to experience the harrowing loss of a baby, again, before anyone was prepared to investigate further.
“I remember very clearly when I was told that I would have to wait for a further two miscarriages after my first," she tells me.
"I could not believe what I was hearing because the level of trauma you experience, the shock, when you hear those words… when you hear there is no heartbeat. Where do you go after that?"
At the Women’s Hospital now, those experiencing a first miscarriage will get support under the “graded model of care” that staff are currently trialling for six months. Over the next three months though, this pilot will inform the Government to show how feasible it is for this system to be rolled out nationwide.
As we finish our interview, a nurse rushes into the room and tells us we need to leave immediately. There is a woman who has presented at A&E and she needs surgery. As we all frantically gather our bags and equipment, I can see the worry on Myleene’s face. She knows what is to come. She has experienced it herself, multiple times.
The difference at this hospital though is, that following her four years of campaigning, no matter the circumstances, this woman will receive support and hopefully, in time, answers.
We also speak to a GP called Anita Raja on the ward. She was supported here with the new care model. She told me that she was given an email address to contact when she got pregnant again after losing her baby at 20 weeks.
She had a missed-miscarriage, like Myleene, which, she explains, comes with no symptoms. The charity Tommy’s supported her through her subsequent pregnancy and now she has two sons.
Dr Justin Chu is one of the consultants at The National Centre for Miscarriage Research in Birmingham which is operated by the charity Tommy’s. For years, he and his colleagues have only intervened when a woman had three miscarriages. Now nurses will assess women after two miscarriages and all women receive extra advice and support in the first instance.
Three miscarriages seems like an arbitrary number, and it is, so now there will be a level of support from the first miscarriage and some tests after a second, rather than only once a third pregnancy has been lost.
“We would hope that most women with maybe one or two miscarriages would go on to have a pregnancy and a live birth," Dr Chu explains.
"Unfortunately that’s been taken quite literally which means they’re not necessarily getting a full amount of care that we could provide and The Pregnancy Loss Review has detailed the type of care that we should be providing for those women in their first miscarriage as we know the amount of emotional and physical damage that pregnancy loss can do is extremely high."
Dr Justin Chu explains how the pilot works and why it could help so many women who have experienced miscarriage
Over the next three months, data collected from The National Centre for Miscarriage Research at Birmingham Women's Hospital will be gathered and presented to Government by the end of the year. It’s hoped then a strategy can be put together to roll out the model in all NHS hospitals.
An estimated 250,000 pregnancies end in miscarriage in the UK every year.
“It isn’t just one of those things. I have four little voices that never got heard and I have a huge responsibility to make sure that this is the legacy,” Myleene tells me.
“When I look at where this sits in the list of my achievements, I chose my career but I feel like this chose me so this is right up there in as much as making change for those who didn’t have a voice or platform to be able to do it."
Myleene says she will continue to campaign to reform how data about miscarriage is collected in England as well as helping to implement changes to paperwork and the language used.
After four years, she is celebrating a first win, but she vows to continue to make sure women who are miscarrying are looked after, and their babies.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article and need help, support is available from the following services:
Tommy's offers advice and support for anyone affected by baby loss and has a Facebook support group.
The Miscarriage Association supports anyone affected by miscarriage, molar pregnancy or ectopic pregnancy. Its helpline is open Monday-Friday on 01924 200799.
Sands also provides support and guidance for those affected by baby loss. Its helpline is open Monday-Friday on 0808 164 3332.
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