Sunday 4 November 2012

Robert Winston lends his support to families grieving miscarriages

Robert Winston is an English professor, medical doctor, scientist, television presenter and politician who was an early pioneer in developing treatments for infertility.

He has recently become an ambassador for a new charity called ‘Saying Goodbye’ which has just launched a series of remembrance services in Britain’s cathedrals for families who have had miscarriages.

These have generated huge interest and I gather that hundreds of people are attending to remember the babies they have lost.

The organisers, Zoe and Andy Clark-Coates, have over 11,000 followers on twitter and over 1,400 followers on facebook.

I was interested to see a lengthy quote from Robert Winston on the ‘Saying Goodbye’ website which acknowledges in very strong terms the humanity of the baby in the womb.

I guess this is not surprising as many mothers I know who have had a miscarriage talk about ‘losing a baby’ in the same way that pregnant mothers generally talk about ‘my baby’.

I don’t think I have ever heard a pregnant woman talking about ‘my fetus’ or ‘my embryo’ although arguably this is the more correct medical term.

In like manner I have never heard an obstetrician saying ‘your fetus’ when referring to a woman’s pregnancy in an antenatal clinic. It is always ‘your baby’.

There are about 80,000 miscarriages every year in England and Wales and few families have not been touched by this kind of loss.

As one who has personally lost both siblings and a daughter in this way I welcome and applaud Lord Winston's backing for this valuable initiative.

Here is his full quote from the ‘Saying Goodbye’ website. The emphasis is mine.

‘Miscarriage is often something that’s not acknowledged or talked about in the UK, and people certainly do not appreciate how utterly distressing it is for women, and indeed their extended families.

It’s a loss of a precious life, and whether the loss happens in early or late pregnancy it’s traumatic, and a natural grief process must be allowed to happen.

Sadly a lot of doctors and nurses see miscarriage on such a regular basis, the right support and follow up advice is just not offered, which results in the vast amount of women never coming to terms with losing their baby, and sadly they are not able to move forward with their lives as they become stuck in a cycle of grief.

I am delighted to be an ambassador for a marvellous new organisation called 'Saying Goodbye'. Following losing five babies themselves, Zoe and Andrew Clark-Coates, the directors of CCEM, decided to launch the first national set of commemorative services, which will allow families to come together to mourn their babies.

I hope that these services will be a turning point in the nation, and through this new organisation miscarriage will become more widely understood, and families will know that their pain and loss has been heard and recognized.’


  1. It appears the use of the word 'baby' is dependent on the extent to which the unborn child is wanted by its parents?

  2. Having had a miscarriage it hurt more when someone (often with the best of intentions) implied that it didn't matter, that it was too early to have been anything important, that there was nothing to be upset about.
    It may have been early but I had really known that life, there had been an image/vision/idea of that life (not in human - "oh our baby will be cute" way) which I understood, and to suggest that my child had not existed hurts me just as much now as it did then. Even if you don't use the word baby, it doesn't mean that their life wasn't precious, wasn't important, and I can hardly imagine it's the almost-mothers and women going through it that dislike the term being used. It tends to be those who didn't want a child, those who haven't been through a miscarriage or pregnancy, or would like there to be less significance placed upon the life created inside a woman's body. It would be easier to think of a parasitic foetus which can be swept away. Having a miscarriage is not easy and speaks volumes about what really makes an impact.

  3. This is confusing from Prof Winston. What does he really believe about the unborn human? Because I also share personally in this miscarriage experience. I say yes to all the sentiments above. But to the best of my knowledge Prof Winston as a surgeon has personally done abortions on 'babies' of various ages. Does he now regret those and see things differently as I do for the abortion I approved? Or does he have a double compartment status for the unborn human--one for miscarriages and another for those he has slated for abortion? Can he or anyone explain?

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