Tulip’s miscarriage story: ‘Something so prevalent and painful is discussed so little’

BBC journalist Tulip Mazumdar has been researching pregnancy loss and maternal health for more than a year, after experiencing four miscarriages herself

by Tulip Mazumdar | 10th May 2022

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With the release of her documentary Miscarriage: The Search for Answers, Tulip opens up about her own painful and enlightening journey.

I have had four miscarriages. The two late losses were both in my second trimester during lockdown. The early ones happened just before. I couldn’t understand how something that was so prevalent and painful for me, and for many others, was discussed so little.

I have primarily been working on a special series and documentary for BBC News, looking at miscarriage care around the world. There was a feeling of shame and guilt that came up no matter where we went.

Most of the time you can’t do anything about miscarriage if it’s a chromosomal issue. That’s true, but chromosomal issues are the problem in about half of all cases, which leaves another half that we need to look into. The idea that miscarriage is inevitable, plus the silence that surrounds it, makes it very difficult for miscarriage to be prioritised.

I didn’t register my first loss, which was a chemical pregnancy – this is when a very early miscarriage happens within the first five weeks of pregnancy. I didn’t tell anyone about it. The second loss was much more difficult – it was at eight weeks. I was about to be deployed for work to a refugee camp in Greece and I wanted to check before I left that everything was okay for me to travel. I had a feeling something wasn’t quite right.

The doctors told me: “This pregnancy isn’t going to continue.” I was simply told: “Come back in two weeks, and we’ll see if it’s gone completely.” I blindly went off to the refugee camp and started bleeding heavily - having to go in and out of portaloos in the severely under-resourced camp. I was extremely mindful that I at least would get to fly home to proper care. There would be plenty of other women going through the same thing as me who were stuck in that terrible place.

When I got back from the Moria refugee camp, I had the scan and was told the pregnancy had passed naturally.

I then lost my little boy Rivah at 20 weeks in June 2020. After that, I was in an absolute state. It was awful, I didn’t know what to do. I had given birth to a tiny dead baby, and I spent the night in a hospital room with the baby in a cold cot next to me. It was called a miscarriage but I thought: “That little being next to me is not a miscarriage, it’s a baby.”

I came back six weeks later and had some basic tests but I was told: “You’ve been unlucky, try again.” I was depressed, I didn’t have it in me to pursue what had gone wrong. We got pregnant again quite soon after that and I was monitored much more closely. I did get good support from the incredible bereavement midwife, but I went for a scan at 16 weeks and was told, once again, there was no heartbeat. I was faced with having to go through the entire thing again.

I was in the same scan room, for a second time, when they told me there was no heartbeat. I was in the same hospital bed on the labour ward giving birth to Rae, another tiny little boy.

After Rae, I had no sadness left. I collected all the information on both late losses, including the post-mortem results for Rivah and Rae, and desperately reached out to anyone I thought might be able to help. I read up a lot, I tried to find the best and most relevant specialists and – because of long waiting lists for the recurrent miscarriage clinic - I ended up going private.

I haven’t been given a categoric reason for why my miscarriages happened. There was one test that found I have stickier blood, which is a genetic issue and can lead to clots in later pregnancies, causing stillbirth. It has been with me since I had my son, who is four. It didn’t affect that pregnancy, but it could have affected the others.

I am currently on my fifth pregnancy in two years and am on several treatments. I’m on blood thinning drugs and aspirin, for which the evidence of effectiveness is extremely limited. I had progesterone in the early stages of pregnancy, and I have growth scans every month. From the pieces of the jigsaw, the doctors think I have some issue around the placenta, but I’m also advised that women with similar issues as me do go on to have entirely uncomplicated pregnancies.

It's important to know why miscarriages happen because there can be interventions, but it’s also just about knowing.

To be told: “Off you go, try again” when you’re scared it will happen again, and then it does happen again - and you’re still being told it’s "probably fine" – that is extremely difficult.

Tulip shared her experience during a webinar on miscarriage. Watch the recording in full below or on our YouTube channel.

For more information about miscarriage, visit our health information page.

For support, please visit Tommy’s.