Almost half of women who miscarry have to wait 24 hours or more for a scan, and this lack of “human kindness” needs to be addressed, say patient campaigners.
Parenting website Mumsnet has published statistics that it says shows the treatment and support women receive fails to meet their needs or measure up to official national guidelines.
A survey of 1,065 women who had miscarried found 46% of them had to wait over 24 hours for a scan to determine if their baby was still alive, with 18% waiting longer than three days.
“We are calling on the three main parties to include a pledge in their manifestos to improve miscarriage care”
It found 47% of the women were treated alongside women with ongoing pregnancies, and 58% of women wanted counselling, but only 12% were offered it.
The website also quoted one of its users. She said: “I had to wait six months to get counselling and lost six months of my life as I was not coping with the loss.”
Mumsnet also found 56% of the women surveyed wanted further medical care but only 26% were offered it.
Only 23% spoke of their experience to friends, and only 13% told wider family.
In 2012, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence pusblished guidance on the management of miscarriage.
It stated that miscarrying at home would be the default clinical response for women undergoing miscarriage before the 13th week of pregnancy, but today’s results show this policy is leaving women without the support they need, Mumsnet said.
Of women who miscarried at home following a scan, 15% felt they had the right support, information and pain relief to manage.
A website user said: “I was told, over the phone, to ‘just sit on the toilet and hopefully it will all come out’.”
Meanwhile, 11 people were asked to store their foetus at home prior to further tests on the embryo, the survey found.
Mumsnet users have developed a five-point Miscarriage Code of Care, which calls for straightforward improvements in the treatment parents receive.
“Midwives and other health professionals have an important role to play in supporting women and families”
They are calling for supportive staff, access to scanning, safe and appropriate places for treatment, good information and effective treatment, and joined-up care.
Justine Roberts, Mumsnet founder, said: “There’s no escaping the pain of a miscarriage, but for this to be compounded by lack of treatment, pain relief, good care or just plain human kindness is completely unacceptable.
“We are calling on the three main parties to include a pledge in their manifestos to improve miscarriage care, based on the principles in our code.”
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “The RCM welcomes and supports the Mumsnet code of care which aims to improve care for women at a very difficult time.
“Midwives and other health professionals have an important role to play in supporting women and families through the physical and psychological impact of miscarriage,” she said.
“Kind, compassionate and empathetic communication around care and treatment is an essential step to support families,” she added.
“It is particularly important that there is effective communication between the hospital, GP and midwife to provide ongoing support or advice, as needed.”