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Communicating Pregnancy Loss

Narrative as a Method for Change


Rachel Silverman and Jay Baglia

This book is the Winner of the OSCLG Outstanding Book Award

The loss of a desired pregnancy or the inability to experience pregnancy are intensely personal phenomena; these losses are also, in our culture at least, extremely private. Communicating Pregnancy Loss is a collection of first-person narratives about the experience of pregnancy loss. Although there is no shortage of books that help prospective parents cope with an unintended pregnancy loss or ‘survive’ infertility, most of these books are authored by physicians or therapists and address pregnancy loss through the language of guidance. This book is different. It is the first of its kind because the contributors (primarily communication scholars but also healthcare personnel and other scholars from the social sciences) tell their story of loss in their own words, offering a diverse collection of narratives that span experience and identity. The authors employ various feminist theories, narrative theories, and performance theories as well as other well-known communication theories and concepts. The book’s narrative approach to writing about and thereby understanding pregnancy loss offers readers a method for changing the way pregnancy loss is understood personally, culturally, and politically.
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Introduction: The Politics of Pregnancy Loss


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“The personal is political.” So said Carol Hanisch (1970) in the title of a short essay that examined the uses of consciousness-raising and crystallized the relationship among public issues, episodes of personal impact, biography, history, and feminism. Consciousness-raising (CR) was employed as a way of meeting, a method of gathering women together and sharing voices, and a way of verbalizing experiences around topics—such as sex discrimination, domestic abuse, and access to birth control. The power inherent in CR stems from the notion that giving voice to experience generates awareness. The women who populated those early CR groups would bear witness to each other and this action, this simultaneity of listening and speaking through storytelling, resulting not only in awareness, but also in political energy. As co-editors of this volume we—Rachel and Jay—believe that pregnancy loss is personal and political. And through this volume we give voice to a diversity of pregnancy loss experiences.

In this introduction to this volume, we offer some terminology related to pregnancy loss, we provide a rationale for this collection, and we situate the collection within the relevant body of literature of pregnancy loss scholarship. These sections are followed by a discussion of how narrative has been employed in the interdisciplinary field of health communication. We close this introduction with a preview of the chapters contained in this book.

Definition: Pregnancy Loss

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