An obscure rule that means women have to endure three miscarriages in a row before they receive support is poised to be scrapped in a victory for campaigners.
New draft guidelines issued by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), which are open for consultation, should mean that women can get support after their first miscarriage instead of their third.
The changes —which if implemented would represent the biggest reform to miscarriage care for 50 years — would mean all NHS trusts would adopt a system of graded care.
After the first miscarriage a woman would receive information, the second miscarriage would be followed by an appointment at a specialist clinic to identify the cause, and following the third the woman would be eligible for a major investigation and care, such as blood tests.
The guidelines also redefine “recurrent miscarriage” to include non-consecutive occurrences.
The win follows sustained campaigning from Sheffield Hallam Labour MP Olivia Blake, who spoke movingly about her experience of miscarriage during the coronavirus lockdown last autumn.
Blake revealed she had to undergo private counselling through her place of work to receive support after she learned she had miscarried her baby while her partner waited in the A&E car park. Coronavirus restrictions at the time meant her partner was unable to attend the appointment with her.
She said the change in guidelines was a “huge step and an incredible win for campaigners and individuals who have been speaking up about this injustice for years”.
“If implemented, these new guidelines will mark the end to the outdated and immoral three miscarriage rule, which has prevented millions of people from accessing vital support and care when they most need it,” she said.
Blake went on to secure an adjournment debate this summer, in which she called for an end to the three miscarriage rule.
During the debate, the health minister at the time, Nadine Dorries, committed to including reforming the women’s health strategy by including a record of national miscarriage data as well as 24/7 care and support for those who have experienced miscarriage.
The UK currently does not routinely collect and publish miscarriage data in the way it does for other losses such as stillbirth and neonatal death, but the most recent research from the Lancet suggests that 23million miscarriages occur every year globally – equivalent to 15% of all pregnancies annually.
The guidelines are due to be finalised by the end of the year following a consultation.
Last week Blake starred in the TV documentary “Myleene Klass: Miscarriage and Me” during baby loss awareness week.
Klass said she was “over the moon” at the new guidelines.
“I hope this is the beginning of the change we need and that miscarriage is never again swept under the rug or dismissed as an inevitability.”