Miscarriage is a “normal part of the childbearing experience” and children should learn about it in school, according to a Dublin TD.
More than one-in-five Irish pregnancies end in miscarriage; however, they are not addressed in the country’s relationship and sexuality (RSE) education programme.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeill said teaching children about miscarriage could help end the stigma surrounding it.
“This is a normal part of the childbearing experience,” she said. “It is a sad and it is a really unfortunate part but it does happen and it happens to lots of people.
“It is part of the spectrum of experience of childbearing years and if we are teaching our young people about pregnancy and about self-care and about emotional development then this is one of the realities we have to acknowledge.”
She said the new RSE programme should aim to prepare children for the realities of childbearing.
“Really, what we are talking about here is acknowledging the physical loss but also the huge emotional loss and preparing young people for that,” she said.
Deputy McNeill has previously spoken about her own experiences with miscarriage and she said better education may have left her better prepared for the experience.
“What young girls are being brought up to believe is that everything will always be perfect and everything will always work out but yet, so many of my friends, so many of my generation have experienced this,” she said.
“I think, to best prepare people, at a minimum you just simply acknowledge it and the next step is to say that this is an emotional trauma and it is OK to have an appropriate emotional reaction to that.
“These sadnesses are part of life but you will get through them. We want to equip our young people to be best prepared for life and all its natural difficulties.
“I think by doing this we have a chance to really best equip our young people to be aware of them, to be able to react to them and to be able to be more resilient through them by naming them and acknowledging them – instead of pretending that these things don’t exist.”
She said education is the best way to end the stigma around miscarriages.
“It would help destigmatise something that happens to a lot of people; that we don’t talk about in a societal way,” she said.
“Of course, that is everybody’s individual choice but by destigmatising it a little bit more and making it a little bit more open, what we do is we prepare individuals - boys and girls - for the sadness that can come as part of life.
“It also helps prepare communities of support and a new generation for which this is an acknowledged part of life’s experience and just take away some of the additional experience about it.”
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