‘My womb is definitely empty’: Emma Barnett reveals she had a miscarriage during five gruelling rounds of IVF in a bid to have a second child
Woman’s Hour presenter Emma Barnett revealed on Saturday that she had a miscarriage during several gruelling rounds of IVF to conceive a second child.
The 37-year-old gave birth to her son four years ago after a single round of IVF, but five further attempts to have another baby have failed.
Emma said she wanted to speak publicly about her experience to support other women who have struggled to get pregnant.
Difficulties: Woman’s Hour presenter Emma Barnett (pictured in 2019) revealed on Saturday that she had a miscarriage during several gruelling rounds of IVF to conceive a second child
She told The Times: ‘Over the past 18 months I have been struggling with secondary infertility.
‘I have had five rounds of IVF, one miscarriage and more internal examinations than I care to recall. There is still no second baby.’
The former BBC Newsnight presenter said she last spoke about her fertility problems after her son was born, saying that stories of unsuccessful IVF treatment were rarely shared.
She added: ‘My womb is definitely empty, and I am reporting to you live from the front lines of failure in the hope that it may be helpful and to be honest.
Miscarriage: The 37-year-old (pictured in July 2020) gave birth to her son four years ago after a single round of IVF, but five further attempts to have another baby have failed
‘I am not looking for sympathy or pity – I am sharing my story in the hope it will help more people understand and to explore what motivates us to keep trying.’
Recent research shows that fertility issues affect up to one in seven people of working age.
The study, conducted by Fertility Matters at Work, revealed 69.5 per cent took sick leave during fertility treatment rather than ask for time off to avoid alerting work colleagues, and 36 per cent of those undergoing assisted conception considered leaving their jobs.
Emma said that at the start of her IVF treatment four years ago she was diagnosed with endometriosis, a painful condition that causes tissue similar to the lining of the womb to grow in other places, such as the ovaries.
She became pregnant after a fifth round of treatment shortly before Christmas last year, but miscarried nine weeks later.
Family: Emma (pictured in October) miscarried nine weeks into her pregnancy. She and her husband plan to try again and will embark on their seventh round of IVF treatment
She and her husband plan to try again and will embark on their seventh round of IVF treatment.
She added: ‘Casting my mind back, I used to read those stories of women who had been able to endure and afford six, seven or eight rounds of IVF and think, “How on earth could they keep going?”
‘That question is front of mind as I potentially embark on what will be our seventh turn on the IVF merry-go-round.
‘I only hope that sharing my experience while it is happening may help someone else trying, failing and trying again.’
The success of IVF has increased in every age band over the past 30 years. Birth rates per transferred embryo are at 32 per cent for under-35s but just four per cent for women over 44, NHS data shows.
Career: Emma’s candid revelation comes after she announced in February that she was leaving her presenting role at BBC Newsnight after three years
Emma’s candid revelation comes after she announced in February that she was leaving her presenting role at BBC Newsnight after three years.
The broadcaster shared the news on Twitter and praised the team behind the BBC Two current affairs show, saying she had an ‘absolute blast’ while working there.
She took over the hosting duties of Woman’s Hour in January 2021 after Jane Garvey and Dame Jenni Murray both decided to quit the BBC Radio 4 show.
Tweeting a photo of her at the Newsnight studio, she said: ‘After three very enjoyable years presenting Newsnight, I have made the decision to leave the programme.
‘This is in part due to my role fronting Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, which I’m thrilled to say is reaching more listeners than ever, and I have many more plans for.
Farewell: The broadcaster shared the news on Twitter and praised the team behind the BBC Two current affairs show, saying she had an ‘absolute blast’ while working there
‘It is also because there are other projects in the pipeline to which I wish to dedicate more attention.
‘The biggest thanks go to my editors, the endlessly energetic team, my guests, and of course, our viewers. It’s been an absolute blast.’
Emma also shared a video clip from her very last show, where she interviewed Conservative MP Paul Scully.
Emma joined Newsnight in 2019 at the same time that Emily Maitlis was named as the new lead presenter of the show.
She previously presented on BBC Radio 5 Live but left the show after four years for Woman’s Hour.
Moving on: As she bid farewell to BBC Newsnight, Emma shared a video clip from her very last show, where she interviewed Conservative MP Paul Scully
In her first week at the Radio 4 show, actress Kelechi Okafor stormed off just two minutes before airtime after claiming she overheard the presenter discussing whether she had made anti-Semitic remarks.
Emma defended herself at the time, saying she stood by her questions to her team and Miss Okafor.
In her busy career, Emma has also written a column for the i newspaper and wrote a book called ‘Period. It’s About Bloody Time’ about menstruation.
Manchester-born Emma, who now lives in London with her husband and son, has also presented The Andrew Marr Show, Politics Live and Sunday Morning Live.
Emma grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family but is not observant. She was the target of anti-Semitic abuse from some Jeremy Corbyn supporters in 2017.
Presenting duties: She took over the hosting duties of Woman’s Hour in January 2021 after Jane Garvey and Dame Jenni Murray both decided to quit the BBC Radio 4 show