The pain of losing a baby doesn’t bear thinking about, yet it’s a heartbreak that touches the lives of thousands of people every year.

Emma Gilmarton, from Cathcart in Glasgow, has now had five miscarriages - two of which happened during the pandemic - and is still in the process of healing.

Detailing her heartbreak, Emma, 39, explained the experience was one of the most terrifying and lonely of her life.

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“It's been lots of different things”, she said. “Firstly, the physical side of it is horrendous, and a lot of people that haven't been through it don't understand that it's not just a ‘heavy period’.”

Emma’s first miscarriage was in 2015, on the day of the UK general election. But instead of going to the polling station, Emma was rushed to hospital by ambulance. And as Emma’s first experience in a hospital, never before in her life having any reason for hospital admission, it left her traumatised.

“I definitely have PTSD with hospitals now”, she explained. “The whole process of losing a baby - physically, but then emotionally, the effect it has on your body with your hormones, and also how you feel as a person - it takes away a lot of your confidence.”

“I’ve never had mental health difficulties in the past”, Emma added. “But it definitely led to mental health problems for me over the last six years.”

After her first traumatic miscarriage, it affected the way that she felt about her next pregnancy - which, thankfully, was successful - and saw Emma welcome her ‘rainbow baby’ Millie to the world, who is now four.

But Emma said that her previous miscarriage had “taken away the joy of being pregnant.”

“I always envied people that don’t have that experience, because they get to enjoy all the lovely bits of pregnancy”, she explained. “But for me it just really reminded me of my loss the whole way through, even until she was born. Even after that, having had more losses, it makes me worry about something happening to her.”

HeraldScotland: Emma said that her previous miscarriage had “taken away the joy of being pregnant.”Emma said that her previous miscarriage had “taken away the joy of being pregnant.”

Miscarriage happens in about a quarter of pregnancies, which adds up to a huge amount of devastated parents and families.

While there are many causes for the losses, the reason is never established in many cases – which for Emma, who didn’t get answers for four out of her five miscarriages, was one of the most difficult things to grasp.

“It’s really hard because if you have answers, you can do something to combat it and help.

“It takes you have to have three miscarriages for them to look into it, which is horrendous - to have to go through it three times.

“Some people say they feel relieved to have a third one because then at least things will be investigated.”

After Emma’s last miscarriage only a few short months ago, it was revealed her baby had had Edward’s syndrome - a chromosomal abnormality - which was why her body naturally miscarried the baby.

And despite feeling very lucky to have a strong support network built up around her, she couldn’t help but at times feel overtaken by feelings of sadness and loneliness.

“I’ve been hurt so many times”, Emma said. “You feel like you become ‘the miscarriage woman’ that no one knows what to say to anymore, because it's happened so many times.

“I have been very lucky to have very supportive husband and friends and family that have been there, but there have been times when I still feel felt very alone in it as well — and that's why I wanted to create a community that was doing something to make people feel less alone in whatever journey they were going through.”

With this in mind, Emma was spurred on to launch a new podcast that she hoped would build a community and facilitate open and honest conversations surrounding the taboo subjects of fertility and baby loss, with no topic off limits.

“I'm still still in the process of healing, and I just got to the point where I felt really sad and lonely.

“I knew other people in same boat, so I just wanted to create a platform to channel my experience into something positive, but also raise awareness and help other people going through similar things.”

The podcast, called Hopes & Dreams, has enjoyed more than 1,000 downloads after only a month and three episodes since its launch.

And it broaches “more than just miscarriages”, Emma explained, as the goal is to touch on as many subjects as possible; from early menopause, postnatal depression, IBS, profit pregnancies, endometriosis and more.

The Hopes & Dreams podcast is also there to help bereaved parents and their families make connections with others, commemorate their babies’ lives, as well as raise awareness about pregnancy and baby loss.

“I’ve been surrounded by people coming to me to want to be honest, because they've heard someone else be open about it. I'm very open about my experiences that helped me in my recovery and in dealing with it, and it has actually given others the confidence to share their stories as well.

“Also for people that haven't been through it, they said it's helped them support family members so it has been educational for people.

“It's a real mixture of talking about real things, but there's light and shade with a bit of humour to it too.”

HeraldScotland: Emma's 'rainbow baby', Millie, now aged fourEmma's 'rainbow baby', Millie, now aged four

How can I help myself or others heal from the heartbreak of a miscarriage?

The pain after a miscarriage is traumatic and devastating, so often people shy away from the tough conversations that invariably need to follow, even if it’s their own families and friends who are suffering.

But that means bereaved parents and families can feel alone in their grief. However, the way friends respond can make a huge difference.

“I think just to acknowledge it”, Emma offered. “It's totally fine not to know what to say, if you haven't been through it - of course you can't understand what it's like.

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“But just acknowledge it and say that you're sorry. Even just to say, ‘I’m sorry, I don't understand what you're going through, but this must be awful. Do want to talk about it?’”

Emma added that it’s crucial to put your mental health first and stop worrying about letting other people down.

“It's very easy to put a brave face on”, Emma said, who took only two weeks off from work after her last miscarriage. “Even though I was back at work and had a smile on my face, underneath you're still healing for a long time. And you don't fully heal ever from it.

“I’ve gone to events or things I shouldn't have gone to because I felt I would let the person down. So you should never feel like you have to do something.”

The Hopes & Dreams podcast is available to download on Apple and Spotify.