“It felt like a mini labour”: mum shares heartbreak of miscarriage days before her 12-week scan

Laura Dabbs talks about the scan that wasn't what it meant to be, and shares her hope to improve support for women after miscarriage

laura

Just days before she was due to have her 12-week scan, MadeForMums forum member Laura Dabbs (pictured with her husband, Luke) found herself bleeding heavily and realised she was having a miscarriage.

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Here, she shares her experience of what was a particularly traumatic pregnancy loss: the physical reality, the mental trauma – and how it’s made her want to make a change for women in her workplace who are going through the same thing.

Laura’s story

“I began to have some light spotting at around 11 and a half weeks into my pregnancy, but didn’t think anything of it, really, as I felt no pain, no nausea. 

“And I read about other women on the MadeForMums forum who’d had the same thing and said it was nothing to worry about.

“Over a couple of days, though, things got worse: there was a tiny bit more bleeding, so I called 111 just in case. 

“They sent an ambulance for me and I was blue-lighted to hospital and put on a drip. It was late on a Friday night, so they weren’t able to scan me, or confirm anything, so they sent me home. The next day, Saturday, I started bleeding more heavily, having cramps, and my waters broke. I had definitely lost the baby.

“I’m the sort of person who Googles things to see what’s going on – but I came across a blank regarding down-to-earth advice on what was happening.

There was no practical guidance online. But basically - miscarriage is a bit like having a mini-labour: your waters break and you even have contractions.

The scan that wasn’t what it was meant to be

“On the Monday, I was due to have my 12-week scan: now, rather than confirming my pregnancy, it would confirm my miscarriage.

“Sitting in the waiting room where other women were having pregnancy checks was hugely emotional. I knew I’d lost the baby at that point, and I broke down.

“The health professional who was scanning me wasn’t aware I’d miscarried, so I had to explain what had happened. 

“They did arrange for a midwife to speak to me and she was really helpful, and gave me some photocopied information.

“To be honest though, I was surprised at the lack of information about miscarriage in general. You get heaps of it on what not to eat/drink, tests, pregnancy and birth, but nothing on what to do if the worst happens. I find this really astonishing as 25% of women will need that information.

“In the weeks that followed, I found the support I needed wasn’t always there. I bled heavily for 7 weeks, and called the EPU (Early Pregnancy Unit) regularly but they kept saying: ‘This isn’t the place for you as you’re not pregnant.’

“Eventually the unit said they’d see me, and confirmed there was some retained material, so advised me to come back in for an ERPC (evacuation of retained products of conception). But the day I was due to have the procedure the bleeding stopped and it wasn’t needed in the end.

Asking for help

“The miscarriage took place close to Christmas, so it was hugely emotional and isolating. We had bought a few things, and as we were so close to the 12-week scan, we were getting ready to tell people.

“After it happened, I tried to go Christmas shopping, to take my mind off it – but I had a panic attack when we were out.

I decided to approach my GP for help, and was given talking counselling once a month, which was really helpful. Just having someone to speak about it with made a huge difference.

Take time to grieve and allow yourself to feel sad

“When it comes to giving advice to other women who are going through miscarriage,  it’s tricky because everyone is different.

“I would say, though, take time to grieve, and if you need help, go out and ask for it.

“If you lose your mum or dad, people offer support – but if it’s a miscarriage, people talk more in hushed tones and whispers.

“Bearing in mind miscarriage isn’t something people always acknowledge, or is something they find hard to discuss, I decided I wanted to take what I’d been through to do something positive with. I’ll always remember the experience – and I want to use it to make a change.

I’m currently working with the HR team at my company to start a ‘buddy’ system for women returning to work who have been through miscarriage, which I hope will help them through those tough days and be a great support.

“Though I would also say – allow yourself to feel crappy. You have the right to feel terrible after a miscarriage – but it will get better.”

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