As many as 1 in 5 pregnancies end in a miscarriage. Despite it being the most widespread complication of pregnancy, it is also the least understood. Researchers at the University of Birmingham are investigating the causes of pregnancy loss and conducting pioneering research to answer the questions that haunt families affected by miscarriages.
Largest miscarriage centre in Europe
In April 2016 the University became the leading partner of Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research, the largest centre for miscarriage research in Europe. Working with partner universities and NHS Trusts, we are bringing doctors, scientists and patients together to understand and prevent miscarriages.
Talking about miscarriage
When a miscarriage occurs, women, partners, family and friends are often reluctant to talk about it. But it may be important to talk. If you know someone who has experienced a miscarriage and you don’t know how to react or what to say, you may like to consider the following thoughts from women and couples who have suffered early pregnancy loss.
- Be there, and listen. Take the time to be with a person who has experienced a miscarriage. They may need to tell their story repeatedly. Show you care by your attentiveness, gestures, and eye contact.
- Acknowledge the loss. Recognise that the baby not born was nonetheless real. A miscarriage means the loss of a child, no matter how early it happens.
- Don’t say it was meant to be or it happened for a reason. Often that elusive "reason" is what women and couples spend time trying to discover, without any positive benefit.
- Don’t predict another pregnancy soon. For many couples, getting pregnant just isn’t that simple.
- Be aware that grief brings physical effects as well as emotional responses. Physical effects may include: poor appetite, disturbed sleep patterns, restlessness, low energy, and other pains. Emotional responses may include: panic, persistent fears, nervousness and nightmares. Be there when your support is needed.
- Give time. Don’t try to hurry bereavement along. This only causes more pain and feelings of confusion, loneliness and inadequacy. There is no time limit to grief and whilst time does help to heal wounds, it doesn't make us forget them.
Real life impact
Professor Arri Coomarasamy
“A couple came to see me after they had suffered 4 miscarriages. The miscarriages had caused devastation in their lives as they had experienced the ups and downs of getting pregnant and then losing the pregnancy. We investigated the couple and found the woman had anti-cardiolipin antibodies, a blood condition that is strongly linked to miscarriages. When the woman got pregnant again, we treated her with a combination of aspirin and clexane (blood thinning drugs) and this pregnancy resulted in a healthy baby. Three years later, I bumped into this couple at a local supermarket, and they now had two children. They looked happy and couldn’t thank the clinic enough.”
Professor of Gynaecology and Director of Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research
Clinical lecturer in Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Research Associate, Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research
Find out more
Tommy's - Information and support on miscarriage ➤
Tommy's - Grieving for your baby ➤
Micarriage Association - Someone you know (PDF - 123Kb) ➤
Learn about our other Birmingham Heroes ➤