Portsmouth mother describes 'financial pressure’ for women to work soon after miscarriage

Under current law workers are entitled to time off for baby loss after 24 weeks but not before. Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

A woman from Portsmouth has spoken of the 'financial pressure' that women feel having to work soon after a miscarriage, as there is no guarantee of protection under current law.

Sam Canaway, 40, from Waterlooville, told PA news agency she pushed herself to work while “suffering the trauma” following her pregnancy ending at 10 weeks.

She thinks it caused her health to be worse, making her take two weeks off sick, while also carrying her “grief” at her loss.

Mrs Canaway said: “We were going through IVF (when I was 35) and I definitely felt the pressure from a financial perspective.

“I was going through something quite horrific and I mentally tried to block that out and I couldn’t get away from what was actually happening and it was exhausting.”

Sam Canaway miscarried after a round of IVF treatment Credit: Sam Canaway/PA

Now a mother of one daughter after several rounds of IVF, Mrs Canaway said she felt fortunate that her boss understood but was surprised there was no support for baby loss in the workplace.

Under current law workers are entitled to time off for baby loss after 24 weeks but not before.

Keeley Lengthorn, who lost who her son George at 22 weeks in March, is urging the public to write to MPs to back a Bill to give women three days of paid leave for any miscarriage under 24 weeks.

“We are left in limbo and relying on the goodwill of employers,” she said. “It’s just horrendous.”

Keeley Lengthorn, who had three miscarriages, is calling for a change to the law Credit: Keeley Lengthorn/PA

She has heard stories of women being told to come into work or being unfairly dismissed who “must be sitting crying at their desks”.

A quarter of employees receive paid leave following their pregnancy or baby loss, according to a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development survey published this week.

Of the one in five who get no support whatsoever, a quarter consider leaving their job because of their experience.

The partner at solicitors Taylor Rose, 39, from Bromley, who specialises in family law told PA that her own three miscarriages felt like her “own body let (her) down” as she also pushed herself to return to work.

“Any feeling of hope or successful IVF or pregnancy was taken away in the click of a finger,” she said.

Taylor Rose – who gave her leave while she buried her son and took some rest – has now circulated a policy for workplaces to follow on baby loss, she added.

Mother-of-one Vicky Woollard, 36, from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, has pushed for change in her workplace after a routine 12-week scan in May revealed no heartbeat and her “symptomless” miscarriage.

Mrs Woollard said the treatment to remove her pregnancy was “further traumatic” as she had to wait with women still carrying their babies on “a complete opposite end of the pregnancy journey”.

A 12-week scan revealed Vicky Woollard’s loss Credit: Vicky Woollard/PA

“I was really lucky, work was really supportive … but there are no policies around baby loss,” she said.

“It shouldn’t be about how much you earn and the risk of losing your job.”

She recently shared her story to her workplace as part of Baby Loss Awareness Week (October 9 to 15) where she is pushing for awareness of this “taboo” subject.

Mrs Woollard said she felt everything during her miscarriage from “guilt” she would not be having a sibling for her son and not taking pregnancy leave when he started school to “heartache” and “grief”.

“You’re emotional and teary and after I couldn’t talk about,” she said. “It’s also physically awful as you’re still showing you’re pregnant.”

The Miscarriage Leave Bill will have its second reading in the House of Commons in December.

Lanark and Hamilton East MP Angela Crawley, who proposed it, said: “With the support of 50 MPs and campaigners, I have written to the new Prime Minister and Business Secretary calling for them to support grieving parents by getting behind the Miscarriage Leave Bill.

“I am hopeful the UK Government will change its stance on the issue and that they will back the Bill.

“I am extremely grateful for campaigners such as Keeley who have supported my Bill from the start and are fighting to ensure that every parent has the right to grieve if they experience miscarriage.”

Lanark and Hamilton East MP Angela Crawley Credit: Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA

Ruth Bender Atik, national director of the Miscarriage Association, which is one of the charities backing the Bill, said: “For many people, miscarriage is the loss of a baby, however early it happens, and is often felt as a bereavement like any other.

“A period of statutory leave would not only allow people some time off to start their recovery, but it would also be a clear public recognition that pregnancy loss can have a very real and significant impact on those going through it.”