Meghan Markle’s miscarriage story inspires women to speak up

Two women who have experienced recurring miscarriages have come forward to share their experiences following the announcement of Meghan Markle’s pregnancy loss.

The Duchess of Sussex, who wrote a feature for the New York Times, has encouraged some women who’ve gone through miscarriages before and during lockdown to speak up about their similar losses.

Sophie Manuel, Gloucester, has suffered from multiple miscarriages and founded a community group ‘Miscarriage Mumma‘ to bring people together.

“We were trying for a baby and I fell pregnant. At nine weeks, I experienced some bleeding, I went to my midwife who told us that it’s normal, and then ended up having a miscarriage on our first pregnancy. I’ve had three consecutive miscarriages after that.”

The ‘Miscarriage Mumma’ group started on Instagram as a private account for Sophie to have somewhere to openly say how she felt. The sense of community she received from the group encouraged her to build up a website and Facebook group, as a place for people to relate and speak up.

“It’s been a really positive space. I’ve made friends through it and I’ve even had people from Australia reach out.

It’s really heart-breaking because obviously you hear lots of really sad stories and I even struggle now knowing what to say. Even though I’ve had four myself, there’s nothing you can do to make things better.”

She said she’s glad the discussion is coming into the media as it’s encouraging more people to open up about their experiences and realise they’re not alone in how they’re feeling.

“What people don’t think about is that a miscarriage is another form of illness. It’s got that negative connotation, everyone wants to have these nice families and they want their children and their marriages, so they don’t want to hear about it. But, it’s a part of life.”

Karen Hanson, co-founder of the ‘Fertility Circle‘ app, has suffered from pregnancy loss during the pandemic and calls for further support and awareness for people after they’ve miscarried.

In February this year, Karen started medication with a frozen embryo transfer cycle after suffering from multiple miscarriages pre-pandemic.

“The procedure was different to normal because of the lockdown. I had to attend the appointments alone.

I became pregnant, which was amazing, but after seven and a half weeks they discovered there was no heartbeat. Fortunately, that was the one appointment that my husband was allowed to attend.”

Karen talked about how difficult it is to suffer from pregnancy loss and says more information should be given to patients on where to go for someone to talk to, after receiving little guidance herself.

“It was a very traumatic experience and there was no after-care. There’s a huge community of Instagram that are incredibly supportive and I’ve reached out to someone who specialises in counselling, but the problem is a lot of people don’t know where to look for the support.

It’d be good to just get a follow up call where someone from the hospital asks: “Are you ok?” Like Meghan Markle said in her article, just asking that question and letting someone speak really does help.”

Karen is the co-founder of ‘The Fertility Circle’, an app to offer practical support and motivation from people who understand.

“When I first went through pregnancy loss, I didn’t really talk to many people, I would shut myself away and bury my head in the sand and I tried to deal with it all myself. Sometimes when I’d Google how to cope it wouldn’t come up with the right information. That’s exactly why we created the platform.”

Despite the influence the recent coverage has had on people opening up and finding the support they need through community groups and websites, the topic remains uncomfortable to talk about for most.

The recent article from Meghan Markle has recieved backlash on Twitter, with some people questioning the reason for her loss being publicised. Sophie and Karen both agree this stigma around the discussion of miscarriage is still very common.

Sophie said:

“My experiences with my page have been quite positive, but I have received a negative response before saying the topic is too upsetting and we shouldn’t be talking about it.”

She thinks the recent news of Meghan Markle has shown us that it’s an important message to create an open discussion about.

Karen also agrees that questioning and discussing the topic is a good thing.

“I don’t want people not to mention it because they think it’s something that I don’t want to talk about. I may not want to talk about it, but I’d like to know that you’re thinking about me.”

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