This Is Why We Need To Break The Silence On Miscarriage

Grazia has teamed up with Tommy's charity to support research into the causes behind stillbirth, miscarriage and premature birth. Here, three award winners give their stories...


by Jennie Agg |
Updated on

In the UK, one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage, 60,000 babies a year are born prematurely and we have one of the highest stillbirth rates in Europe. Grazia wants to change this. We believe women shouldn’t have to go through their pregnancies in fear, and that the stigma around baby loss must be challenged. That’s why we’re teaming up with Tommy’s charity – whose research into the causes and treatments of stillbirth, miscarriageand premature births saves lives – ahead of their annual awards on Thursday, where incredible families, researchers and healthcare professionals will be celebrated. Here, some of those presenting and winning awards share their stories..

‘I wish people wouldn’t flinch when I mention my pregnancies’

- Mum’s Voice award winner Jennie Agg

When I heard I’d won the Mum’s Voice award, I felt honoured, but weirdly my first reaction was fear: that I am unworthy of the title because I’m not actually a mum. At least, I’m not in the way the world tends to recognise that label. Because, like so many women, I’ve been pregnant but didn’t get to bring my baby home. I’ve had four miscarriages now, all of them before 12 weeks, the point at which most people normally announce a pregnancy. Can you call yourself a mum if no one knew you were pregnant in the first place? If you never held your children? Never even named them?

Sometimes, like me, you exist in a state in-between motherhood and being without a child. I may not have living children, but I’ve stepped over the threshold of motherhood and now I can’t go back. I’ve felt that all-consuming love for something both of yourself and bigger than yourself; the love for a child I thought I would have by now. I can never un-feel that. This is what I want people to understand – that motherhood and its pursuit is not black and white, either/or. Then there’s an anxiety that if I describe the pregnancies I lost as my children, others will mistake me for someone who supports the sort of cruel anti-abortion legislation introduced recently in Alabama and other US states; the kind of legislation that still punishes Northern Irish women.

I am as pro-choice as they come and I have loved a six-week heartbeat all the same. I wish people wouldn’t flinch when I mention my pregnancies. Just because my pregnancies ended in blood and tears and general anaesthetic, doesn’t make them any less real. Nor does it blunt the grief my husband and I have felt each time. This is what I hope I will be thinking of on the day of the awards – not my own impostor syndrome, but all the others who, like me, aren’t quite sure what ‘category’ they belong to any more. To remember that what we loved – and what we lost – matters.

Read Jennie’s blog at

‘Delivering a stillbirth is devastating’

Clemmie Hooper, 34, is a midwife and mother of four known on Instagram as @motherofdaughters. She is presenting the Healthcare Hero award

The part of my job that I dread the most is when a pregnant woman comes in because she hasn’t felt her baby move for a while. I try to find a heartbeat, but sometimes I can’t. So I try again, while soothing the patient who’s searching my face for good news. My heart pounds as I walk shakily along the hospital corridors to fetch a doctor. They’ll carry out a scan and, in some cases, deliver the tragic news that the baby growing inside them isn’t alive any more. I hug and hold the mother and try to comfort her, but how do you console someone who’s just lost a child?

Delivering a stillbirth is equally devastating: you do your absolute best to make that experience as positive as you can for the parents. Afterwards, we’ll wash the baby, dress it and take photos of the parents holding it for the first and last time. We treat the babies with the same amount of care and respect as if they were alive. Sadly, we see a lot of stillbirths, miscarriages and babies who are born prematurely. I’ve dealt with it many times; it’s certainly common to have a woman on my shift who has experienced a loss or is having a premature birth.

It’s awful watching the snippet of these people’s lives which will undoubtedly be their worst. Yet, tragically, it’s so common. I truly believe that with more research the shocking statistics can be changed. That’s why Tommy’s is such an important charity; they release fantastic research that we midwives can only dream about doing. For years, we midwives have been telling women to sleep on their side in pregnancy, because lying on your back presses on an artery that delivers oxygen and blood to the baby. But there hadn’t been conclusive research about the link to stillbirth until recently, when the Tommy’s team were involved in a huge study that was the fourth trial to definitely confirm a link. Tommy’s ran a very successful campaign called Sleep on Side to get the message out to women and it had huge reach.

I’ve had shifts where I’ve come home and been grumpy with my husband, Simon, and when he asks about my day I burst into tears. He’ll give me a hug and a cup of tea, but you can’t shake the feeling of it just not being fair. I’m a busy, exhausted parent who sometimes feels like I don’t have a minute to myself. But I also feel so grateful that I had four healthy pregnancies and straightforward births. I’m lucky that my children are growing up to be healthy and feisty. They are my world and I never take them for granted. Equally, listening to the powerful stories at previous Tommy’s awards events also puts things into perspective. This year, I’m honoured to be presenting the Healthcare Hero award, recognising the incredible work of medical professionals.

Quite rightly, many of the awards go to families and women, but actually there’s so much work among healthcare professionals going on behind the scenes. These awards shine a light on strong, courageous people and give them the recognition they deserve. I’ve met so many remarkable midwives and have always found there’s a real sense of us uniting and supporting each other. We’re encouraged to talk about how we feel and everyone is very sensitive towards each other’s mental health. We can get so caught up in our own little lives, we forget about other people’s stories. When you’ve got a healthy baby, it’s easy not to think about what other people go through.

Hopefully, talking about this now will encourage more public discussion around this topic. The more we talk, the more it normalises baby loss and stops women feeling so alone.

‘I want to be there for parents who experience loss’

- Healthcare Hero award winner Tracy Rea

I’m a bereavement midwife and I love my job. That’s a sentence that shocks most people I tell. But I get such satisfaction from being able to care for bereaved families and observe their resilience. Five years ago, I had a vision and decided we at Milton Keynes University Hospital should create a garden for bereaved parents in the hospital grounds. There are memorial gardens up and down the country, but this one is unique to Milton Keynes Hospital and I wanted it to be in the spot where parents lost their child.

I was lucky enough to be given an unkept courtyard in the hospital and our chief executive got on-board. Eight bereaved parents and I designed it and named it Forget Me Not. With a bereaved mother, I also run a Forget Me Not support group for those who’ve experienced loss. Then I realised there wasn’t any care being offered to women who have previously lost a child and are pregnant again, yet they are some of the most terrified and anxious people to go through pregnancy. I support them – it makes me proud to have known them at their saddest and be able to look after them again through a happy time.

I can look down at the Forget Me Not garden from a corridor in the hospital and, more often than not, I see people who have lost a baby sitting there, contemplating their loss and life; often hand-in-hand with another loved one, holding a pebble with their child’s name and date of birth on it. The garden radiates an air of calm. This and the support groups are unique offerings for hospitals. I don’t know of any other bereavement midwives throughout the UK offering anything similar. Even so, I was shocked and delighted to hear I’d won Tommy’s Healthcare Hero award. The most special thing is knowing the parents I care for have nominated me.

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