8 Feb 2018

Tiny secret taboos: miscarriages invisible in Estonia

In a small country like Estonia, where there's enormous pressure for people to have children, miscarriages are not discussed. The 500 women who experience them every year conceal their loss.

Marian Männi
Marian Männi Eesti Ekspress, Estonia
Source: Eesti Ekspress
Tiny secret taboos: miscarriages invisible in Estonia - NewsMavens
Statue of crying woman by World War victim memorial in Ocmanice, Třebíč District. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

Estonia's population is only 1.3 million. Since the beginning of the millenium, the country has seen a negative birth to death population ratio. Not surprisingly, persuading Estonian women to give birth is a high political priority, which has placed Estonia's maternity benefits among the best in the world.

It has also entitled middle-aged male politicians to comment on who should have kids and how many, including this member of parliament:

"A 27-year-old single, childless woman is a dangerous element in the society," conservative politician Martin Helme said. 

But in the midst of this, there are parents who are grieving the loss of their child. Many of them, left alone to deal with their sorrow and guilt, are often hesitant to try having another. In a country where every new citizen is important, neglecting to support couples who have suffered a miscarriage is both cruel and counterproductive.

women's issues,family,health

Miscarriage facts

  • An estimated 10 to 15 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriages.
  • Mourning a miscarriage differs from other losses because there are no memories or stories to help parents cope. Specialists can help parents create these stories.
  • Some women blame themselves for losing the baby, citing a poor diet or lack of rest.
  • It's rare to have more than one miscarriage, according to the head of women's clinic Piret Veerus. And a miscarriage doesn't mean a woman can't have children in the future.
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