Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Hope for the best …but expect the worst: a qualitative study to explore how women with recurrent miscarriage experience the early waiting period of a new pregnancy
  1. Sarah Louise Bailey1,2,
  2. Jacky Boivin3,
  3. Ying C Cheong4,5,
  4. Ellen Kitson-Reynolds6,
  5. Christopher Bailey7,
  6. Nick Macklon8,9
  1. 1 Health Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, Hants, UK
  2. 2 Women and Newborn and Research and Development, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, Southampton, UK
  3. 3 School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
  4. 4 Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  5. 5 Princess Anne Hospital, Complete Fertility Centre, Southampton, UK
  6. 6 Midwifery, University of Southampton, Southampton, Hants, UK
  7. 7 Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, UK
  8. 8 Medical Director, London Womens Clinic, London, UK
  9. 9 Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Zealand University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sarah Louise Bailey; sarahl.bailey{at}


Objective To investigate how women experience the initial period of a new pregnancy after suffering recurrent miscarriage (RM).

Design A qualitative study, nested within a randomised controlled feasibility study of a coping intervention for RM, used semi-structured face-to-face interviews. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using a thematic network approach.

Setting Participants were recruited from the Recurrent Miscarriage Clinic and Early Pregnancy Unit in two tertiary referral hospitals in the UK.

Participants 14 women with RMs and who had previously participated in the randomised controlled trial (RCT) feasibility component of the study were recruited.

Results Seven organising themes emerged from the data: (1) turmoil of emotions, (2) preparing for the worst, (3) setting of personal milestones, (4) hypervigilance, (5) social isolation, (6) adoption of pragmatic approaches, (7) need for professional affirmation.

Conclusions The study established that for women with a history of RM, the waiting period of a new pregnancy is a traumatic time of great uncertainty and emotional turmoil and one in which they express a need for emotional support. Consideration should be given to the manner in which supportive care is best delivered within the constraints of current health service provision.

Trial registration number ISRCTN43571276

  • recurrent miscarriage
  • adaptation, psychological
  • anxiet
  • pregnancy

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

View Full Text

Statistics from


  • Contributors SLB contributed to the design of the study, was responsible for obtaining ethical approval and liaised with the PPI group for this study. NM, CB, JB, EK-R and YCC contributed to the design of the study. SLB and EK-R coded and analysed all the transcripts. All authors were involved in interpretation of the data. SLB wrote the first draft of the manuscript and all authors were involved in subsequent revision. All authors approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This study was funded by the National Institute of Health Research, UK (award reference number CDRF-2012-03-004). The study was sponsored by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval A favourable opinion was received from National Research Ethics committee, South Central – Hampshire A (13/SC/0506).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement This research is part of a PhD study by SLB. The PhD will be available via the University of Southampton depository.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.