MORE support is needed for depressed Asian women who are tortured by guilt following a miscarriage, campaigners have claimed.
A growing number of women are blaming themselves or are being held responsible by family members after an unsuccessful pregnancy, according to research.
Groups have called for a campaign in the Asian community to urge victims and their families to learn about mental health services on offer.
It comes as charity Tommy’s announced last month it is opening Europe’s largest research centres to prevent early miscarriages.
The University of Birmingham, the University of Warwick, and Imperial College London will run clinics enabling 24,000 women a year to receive support.
Polly Harrar, founder of The Sharan Project help group, told Eastern Eye: “We have seen the devastating impact depression can have on women who have suffered from a miscarriage, particularly where they are ‘defined’ by their ability to reproduce.
“They are often either blamed for the loss or viewed as ‘damaged’, and in many cases, due the stigma attached to depression, they are denied access to support.
“We need to raise more awareness of these issues to ensure those suffering from depression receive the support they need.”
A US study last year found almost half of women who have miscarriages felt guilty, and two in five believe it was caused by something they did wrong.
Experts said 60 per cent of miscarriages are caused by genetic problems and a large number of women have wrong ideas about what causes a pregnancy to go wrong.
The NHS website says an increased risk of miscarriage is not linked to a mother’s emotional state, lifting heavy items or having a scary experience.
Anita Chumber works for Dudley & Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust in the Midlands and runs support group Pyari Sangat.
She told Eastern Eye: “I believe the main issue these women face is the stigma that is attached to having experienced mental health problems.
“It’s very clear that there is a lack of understanding and empathy for individuals who find it difficult to cope at some point in their life.
“I still get surprised when I deliver presentations to community groups or workplaces as a lot of people associate mental health with negative connotations.
“There needs to be more accessible social outlets and community groups supported by local organisations as well as the government to provide safe spaces and opportunities for individuals with shared experiences to come together.
“Hiring interpreters and translating resources into languages that reflect the ethnic make-up of areas is key.”
More than 200,000 women a year in Britain suffer a miscarriage. A 2015 study found South Asian women who have IVF treatment, where a woman’s eggs are fertilised with sperm in a lab, are more likely to miscarry than white women.
Researchers at Birmingham University said the risk was one-and-a-half times higher. One woman who went through this harrowing ordeal last year is Sajna*.
The mother-of-one told the Asian Mums Network website: “One of the cruellest things about miscarriage is that you get to keep all the pregnancy symptoms for a while.
“So even while you are bleeding and your body is letting go of your precious baby, you still have the fatigue and the nausea which excited you just a few days ago because it meant all this was real.
“When I was finally told by the loveliest midwife in the world that there was no hope, I just crumpled into a psychological heap.
“I had to grieve alone because my husband wasn’t grieving. We spent weeks blaming one another.
“Was it that cheese I ate, that argument we had, or the long hours I was working in my new job?
“I fantasised about what my baby would have looked like and been like and grown up to be. It took such a long time to normalise.”
* Name has been changed