Why is it taboo to discuss miscarriages and stillbirths publically?
I had a recent discussion with friends regarding their thoughts on if miscarriages and stillbirths should be discussed publically.
Friends who announced their pregnancy early felt they had to defend their decision for an early announcement. People kept asking them what they would do if they had a miscarriage. Those friends would reply they chose to announce their pregnancy early so they would have a large circle of support if they were to have a miscarriage.
Does society wants us to look the other way if something “sad” happens? Is it because we want to protect our family and friends from potentially “bad” news? Is it because we don’t know how to react when hearing the news that a close one had a miscarriage or a stillbirth? Is it because it makes us feel helpless?
This discussion bought up the role of social media in our daily life. Sometimes I see Facebook status updates that a friend is pregnant, having contractions, or just had a boy/girl. Every once in a while I see updates that a friend just had a miscarriage.
I have noticed people do not always know how to response when someone posts about having a miscarriage. Some become upset that this was posted and think it should be a 100% private matter.
I have also noticed a couple of friends posting pictures of their stillborn baby. This seems to upset some people who feel something like this should be private and not posted. Is it because people don’t want to deal with the sadder aspect of pregnancy and birth process? Is it because they want to be protected in a sense and only hear the “good” things? Is it because it scares people that this could happen to them? People complain it’s inappropriate and inconsiderate for stillbirth pictures to be posted.
On the other hand, there are people who feel this is a great thing to do in the grieving process. Just because they had a miscarriage or a stillbirth doesn’t mean they were never pregnant. They still want to share their child with the world. They don’t want to hide the baby-parent bond, they don’t want to hide their love, and they don’t want anyone to forget their baby.
This again, comes back to the fact that discussions of miscarriages and stillbirths is considered taboo in our society. Should something that is common and a natural part of human life be hidden? Or should it become more accepted that this is part of life and it’s ok to share it with others?
Personally, I believe people should be able to do what is most appropriate for them without feeling like they have to defend themselves. Some people prefer to be more private while others prefer to be more public. My personal belief is that people usually know what is the best for them in situations like this but there needs to be more support and acceptance from society for people to be able to make that decision.
What can we do as, genetic counselors, to help get rid of that taboo?