• Tara Pollak

A little bit about the project and myself

Updated: Oct 12, 2020

Reproducing Loss is my PhD project researching pregnancy loss, family and bereavement in the Lothians, Scotland.

I am a social anthropologist at the University of Edinburgh and have lived in Edinburgh for the past five years. Social anthropology studies societies and cultures, their nuances and diversity through conversation, observation and comparison. Over the past years I have specialised in topics around pregnancy and reproduction, breastfeeding and kinship.

My questions around pregnancy loss emerged from a project on breastfeeding in Ireland, as participants described their experiences of birth and miscarriage. When I returned home I shared my questions with my mum and realised that there had been pregnancy losses in my family. I had either been too young to understand or, in the case of my mum, the loss had never been shared with anybody, not even my dad.

You may know the stats: 1 in 4 pregnancies end in pregnancy loss. When I first came across these numbers, I was astounded. Sure, I knew it was possible. But I did not realise just how common pregnancy loss is.

Why don't we talk about it then? What kinds of support and care exist for people who experience pregnancy loss? How do they make sense of their experience? How do people make families and relations in the face of loss? How do people relate to their bodies after loss?

Edinburgh has a long history of medical science and research, and hosts archives with medical specimens, surgical tools and documents relating to reproduction, midwifery and obstetrics. The Lothians as a whole are served by a number of pregnancy loss and support charities with dedicated services and local groups. It is also, a sprawling and quickly growing area attracting couples and families.

I am funded by the Economic and Social Research Council for this project, and passionate about making sure people's experiences with loss and bereavement in pregnancy are recognised and heard.

You can read more about my research and related topics on this blog. If you want to get in touch, email or dm on twitter @taramariapollak!

Photo by Jamie Glisson

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