Sunday, 6 February 2011

Reporting of Amanda Holden's stillbirth is a miscarriage in the press

Yesterday evening I heard that Amanda Holden an actress and judge on a talent show here in the UK had given birth to a stillborn son a few days previously. She was seven months pregnant. I recognised Amanda's name but wouldn't have recognised a photo of her and wouldn't have been able to say why she was famous. I am saddened to hear about her loss. I wouldn't want anybody to go through the pain of losing a baby. My thoughts are with her and her family.

The reporting of Amanda Holden's loss really annoyed me. Most of the initial reports from news websites such as BBC News reported that Amanda had suffered a miscarriage. A miscarriage? She was seven months pregnant! How can reporters not realise that a loss of a baby at seven months is not a miscarriage? It is either stillbirth or neonatal death. They really should get their terminology correct. I cannot give you a link to any of the stories using this incorrect terminology because thankfully most have now started to refer to the loss as a stillbirth.

I have seen so many comments on websites from women who have lost babies complaining that the press used the term miscarriage instead of stillbirth. I know it is just a word but it really does make a difference to those of us who have experienced such a loss. Correct reporting helps raise awareness, incorrect reporting makes women like myself who have experienced stillbirth feel like reporters are trying to demean our loss. I am not saying that miscarriages are not painful, and I still believe that there needs to be a change in terminology for late miscarriages. Sadly I feel - and I could be wrong- that many people who have not experienced late miscarriages, stillbirth of neonatal death think of early miscarriages when they hear the word miscarriage. They assume they are common and that the women can just "try again" and will "have better luck next time."

Using the term miscarriage for a loss at seven months feels hurtful, perhaps I am wrong about this, please let me know if I am, but to me if somebody calls the loss of Orson a miscarriage I feel like they do not realise what I went through and what I am still going through. Having given birth at term to M and had a stillbirth at seven months, I know that both experiences of labour are equivalent, but there is one big difference, with the stillbirth you do not have the excitement of knowing you will soon hold your baby. The stillbirth is so much harder and that is an understatement.

So if any reporters read this (I would be shocked if any did) please, please, please check your terminology is correct before you write stories about the loss of a baby in the future. It really will make a difference.

1 comment:

  1. I've gotten stillbirth and miscarriage spoken to me after the death of Mallory and it really upsets me to hear either one. I know it's just a slip of the tongue and to someone who hasn't experienced anything like it perhaps it's hard to understand just how different these terms as and how very different I feel our neonatal loss was to both. All three situations are painful and terrible, but very different experiences. I usually just suffer in silence when someone says the wrong thing but my husband is great about correcting them. He always tells them 'it wasn't a stillbirth, she lived for four days'. I agree with you though that people in the media should really make the effort to get it right.