Frances Perry House is aiming to improve the emotional care given to women who experience pregnancy loss, by launching a dedicated research project into Mental Health and the Early Loss of Pregnancy (M-HELP).
In Australia one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, 80% of which are in the first trimester. Yet research into how to best support women and their partners, during what can be a very traumatic and painful time, is minimal.
The M-HELP research team, led by Dr Marjolein Kammers from the University of Melbourne, is examining ways to improve the emotional support given to women and their partners after loss, as well as empower and educate their health care providers.
“There seems to be a stigma or an unwritten rule that we shouldn’t share our pregnancy before 13 weeks because if a woman loses her baby in that time, it almost seems common. However, past research has shown that women frequently experience significant psychological distress, trauma and grief as a result of miscarriage, which can last weeks, months or even years. One of the problems there is that these women don’t have the support network to help them, because no-one knew they were pregnant in the first place,” Dr Kammers said.
The M-HELP project is particularly close to Dr Kammers’ heart, having herself experienced several rounds of IVF and multiple pregnancy losses. She hopes this research will help other women who lose a baby during early pregnancy.
“It would be wonderful if that stigma was lifted so that women can share their early pregnancy as well as their early loss, if they want to. By sharing more about our miscarriages, the possible emotional impact can be acknowledged which can have an incredibly positive impact” she said.
Frances Perry House Chief Executive Officer Shaune Gillespie said the M-HELP study was important and encouraged women and their partners to take part, if they felt comfortable.
“This research is the first of its kind and at Frances Perry House we are committed to starting the conversation with women and changing how early pregnancy loss is seen,” Mr Gillespie said.
“There’s no doubt it’s a sensitive topic but we need to discuss it to help drive change and improve the support that we as health care providers can give to our patients,” he said.
Women and/or their partners who’ve experienced pregnancy loss, at least six weeks but not more than six months ago, can volunteer to take part in the M-HELP project, knowing that their involvement could help other people suffering loss in the future.
Their participation would include one 60-minute conversation with the researchers around preferred language used by their health care providers to talk about the loss, and their view on what type of extra support resources would be helpful. This interview can be conducted in person, or via online video call.