You only have to walk into our local maternity unit to realise just how stretched local maternity services are. It’s shabby and overcrowded. It’s one of my least favourite places, the memories associated with it are not good.
There is a single room to one side which is the early pregnancy clinic. A waiting area and a consultation room. With lots of notices explaining that there is a very small window where you will be offered a scan to confirm if the pregnancy is viable.
After 12 weeks you do not get scanned. There isn’t the money. They check your blood and you are then sent home to see how things happen. With instructions to come back in if the pain gets unbearable. That is physical pain, not emotional pain. Because waiting until your 20 week scan to find out if you baby has died or not is hard. You just don’t know what is happening and have no way of finding out unless you can afford to pay for a private scan.
If you are in the week range where you are offered a scan you are sent out of the early pregnancy clinic to sit in the general ultrasound waiting room. You are surrounded by women who are obviously pregnant and who invariably are discussing their pregnancy in happy detail. They talk about baby names, their hopes and dreams for the baby. Totally oblivious to the fact that you are there waiting to find out if your pregnancy has ended. I have sat there before now, quietly in the corner. On my own. Not one of these fecund couples. I have frantically played with my phone to try and distract me, to try and avoid sitting there crying and upsetting them. I have sat there trying not to cry whilst nobody has noticed. I’ve had to sit through this three times now. It doesn’t get easier.
I know that resources are tight. I know that there is a system but surely the waiting list could have names highlighted for those women who are waiting for a scan because of a possible miscarriage? Surely we could be able to sit away from the happy couples and their bumps? The early pregnancy clinic is on the same corridor, it’s not even a longer walk away. It would be far more humane if we could avoid sitting in that waiting room.
The staff in the early pregnancy clinic are caring and do try to be kind. The trouble is that they aren’t the only staff you encounter. When you go back in for the second blood test you can end up having to explain in endless detail what has happened because for some reason your notes don’t flag up that this is the second blood test. Or even get told that this test is to confirm the pregnancy – it is just not a joined up process.
It doesn’t take a lot to remember that whilst staff may see miscarriage on a daily basis for that woman there and then this is not something run of the mill – it is the end of a pregnancy and all the hopes associated with it.
Mumsnet are running a campaign for better miscarriage care. Nothing in it is particularly radical. In fact if think about it these 5 steps should be part of a normal, caring, understanding health service. Except they are not in my experience.
The five points are –
– Supportive staff
– Access to scanning
– Safe and appropriate places for treatment
– Good information and effective treatment
– Joined-up care
If you support this campaign, why not add your voice too? There are details on how you can help here and you can read other stories about how this campaign could make a change over at Salt and Caramel