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Recurrent Miscarriage in Northern Ireland.

Getting support

This website is designed as source of information for couples living in Northern Ireland who have suffered recurrent miscarriages.

My husband and I experienced 8 miscarriages. Although there is a lot of information online about miscarriage, it can be difficult to work out what way to turn. In addition, we had very little in the way of emotional support thorough those very traumatic times. We were also confused by the difference in treatments available through the NHS compared to private clinics – the latter of which had different and perhaps what are perceived as more experimental treatments. We didn’t know what might be ahead, what options or tests/procedures we might have to undergo. We were also unaware of the length of time it would take to get test results back and to work out a plan going forward. Our treatment plans also changed when we continued to miscarry – highlighting that we needed further investigations to get the appropriate treatment.

If we had known what we know now, we could have saved a lot of time, head scratching and heartache. Hopefully by sharing some of what we have learned, we can help others...

We hope this website may offer some useful information about the types of help and support available. It should not be taken as medical advice, but simply as a reference point to help inform local couples who have experienced recurrent miscarriages. It does not endorse any particular National Health Service (NHS) clinic, private clinic or treatment/test. We would simply recommend couples read about the subject as much as possible to make informed decisions. If we had known what we know now, we could have saved a lot of time, head scratching and heartache. Hopefully by sharing some of what we have learned, we can help others.

What is recurrent miscarriage?

Miscarriage is when a pregnancy ends before the 24th week. Sadly, it is surprisingly common and occurs in one in every four pregnancies. The majority of miscarriages happen in the first trimester - that is, during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. However, when a woman has three or more miscarriages in a row, this is known as recurrent miscarriage. Unfortunately, some women will have many more. Around 1 in every 100 women will suffer from recurrent miscarriages, however there is no accurate data on the number of women affected in Northern Ireland as figures are often under-reported.

Yet recurrent miscarriage is poorly understood. There are many websites and leaflets that highlight some of the many possible causes. Examples of sources of information on the various causes of recurrent miscarriage can be found at:

The Miscarriage Association:

The Miscarriage Association

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists:

Recurrent and Late Miscarriage
Guidelines

Sadly, sometimes with or without further investigations, a cause is never found. The journey of recurrent miscarriage can therefore leave couples devoid of hope, weary, in despair, and questioning why and, if, it will be possible to conceive and carry a baby to term. This can be very distressing, and can place different pressures on a couple and their relationship. The burden both mentally and physically, especially for the woman - can also be an extremely lonely and heart breaking experience. Whilst family or close friends might be sympathetic, people who have not been through it may not appreciate just how devastating it can be.

Currently there is very little support for couples experiencing recurrent miscarriage in Northern Ireland. It is unclear why this is. Perhaps it is because the subject is still considered a taboo and rarely talked about, as many women do not announce their pregnancy until after the 12th week. There is also a lack of funding and resources within our local Health and Social Care Trusts to offer more specialised care and treatment required. There are only a handful of medical consultants in Northern Ireland with a special interest in recurrent miscarriage and none work on this area in full time practice. There is also no specialist recurrent miscarriage clinic currently available in Northern Ireland.

Much more work needs to be done to improve access to specialist care in Northern Ireland. Strides to raise awareness and improve care are being made - for example by the Patient and Client Council, service users, and medical professionals, amongst others. In 2016, the Patient and Client Council published its Position Statement on Recurrent Miscarriage in Northern Ireland. The report states:


There is no specialist, dedicated recurrent miscarriage service in Northern Ireland. Referral for investigations depends on the views and practices of individual clinicians, while access to specialist, evidence-based investigations and expertise is very limited.

Currently, women have to qualify for a referral to a specialist centre in England. Figures obtained from the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) show that only six women in Northern Ireland qualified for such referrals in 2014/15. Others will have to pay for private treatment, as well as the costs of travel and perhaps accommodation.

 

Some patients reported that they have never been offered a referral to a specialist clinic in the UK. Others commented that when they enquired about it they were told it would not make a difference.


The position statement report on recurrent miscarriage from the 2016 Patient and Client Council also provides first hand details from women who have been through the experience, and some of the supports currently available. Further information on this is available in the "Practical Support" section of this website.