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New website supports those affected by miscarriage

New website supports those affected by miscarriage

A new website fills a gap in Australia by providing evidence-based information and research for those affected by miscarriage.

In Australia, around 285 miscarriages occur every day – or one every five minutes – affecting over 100,000 couples a year. Miscarriage is the loss of baby under 20 weeks gestation. It often has significant psychological impacts on those affected, and for many, results in anxiety, depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder.

The new website is based on Miscarriage Australia research that found people want information and resources about miscarriage in the one place, informed by strong evidence and reputable experts and healthcare providers. 

This includes:

  • information about the symptoms, frequency and causes of miscarriage, future pregnancy preparation and current research around miscarriage
  • information around how to cope with grief, support for family friends and healthcare providers, how to support those affected by miscarriage, and ways to memorialise and commemorate their loss
  • a platform to showcase Miscarriage Australia research aimed at improving support for those affected.

Miscarriage Australia is a collaborative group of researchers and clinicians from Monash University, the University of Melbourne and Deakin University. Their research improves support for those affected by miscarriage. 

Led by Monash University’s Dr Jade Bilardi, from the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, and Professor Meredith Temple-Smith from the University of Melbourne’s Department of General Practice, the team has undertaken numerous studies over the past five years with women, male partners and health care professionals to examine miscarriage experiences and support needs. 

“What has been abundantly clear is that the type of support people would like from their social networks and healthcare is often grossly lacking, leaving them feeling alone and isolated in their loss and without the support and information they need at the time,” Dr Bilardi says. 

“Those affected by miscarriage also want information that is easy to understand, informed by credible sources, includes partners and family members, and is not overly clinical or medicalised.

Professor Temple-Smith said many people had sought information online but often could not find everything they needed. “Unfortunately, they often struggle to find an Australian based website that includes all the information they are looking for in the one place, is based on research evidence and informed by reputable experts and healthcare providers,” she said.

An Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award Fellowship awarded to Dr Bilardi in 2020 enabled the Miscarriage Australia team to fill this gap. On 15 October – international Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day – it will launch the Miscarriage Australia website. 

In developing the site, the team used a human centred design approach to work with key stakeholders including clinical advisors and consumers, and expert website designers and developers (Splendid Studio and Sixheads). This ensured the end product met end users’ needs. 

The website is in its initial phase of development. Miscarriage Australia plans to further develop the site, in particular around the needs of male partners and LGBTIQA+ couples. The group is keen to hear from organisations interested in partnering with it to expand the website. 

“We hope this website raises awareness about the need for further research and funding in this area – something that is grossly lacking at the moment,” Professor Temple-Smith said. “We want to hear users’ feedback to continually improve it.”

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