October marks Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. This month honors the millions of families who have experienced loss through miscarriage, stillbirth, termination for medical reasons, or infant death.
Pregnancy and infant loss impacts so many families. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. 1% of pregnancies end in stillbirth. Numerous families are faced with the gut-wrenching decision to end a wanted pregnancy due to serious medical concerns for the fetus or expecting mother. Far too many parents say goodbye to their babies shortly after meeting them for the first time.
Despite the number of families affected by pregnancy and infant loss, these losses are often shrouded in silence. As President Reagan said when he declared October Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month on October 15th, 1988.
“When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.”
It may be uncomfortable to talk about perinatal loss, but when we are silent about loss, the grief of families goes unacknowledged. When we are silent about perinatal loss, we send the message that there is no space for mourning, leaving families isolated and alone in their grief.
We need to shatter the silence and stigma and surrounding pregnancy and infant loss. To me, this is exactly what Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month is all about.
The more we share stories, the more we talk about loss, the more we educate ourselves, the more we break the silence. The more we help others heal. The more we give families space to grieve. The more we connect families to the help they deserve.
So, whether you have personally experienced a loss, know someone who has, or simply want to spread a message of support, consider participating in Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
Five Ways to get involved with Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
- Participate in the International Wave of Light Campaign. Light a candle at 7pm on October 15th in honor of grieving families. You can use the hashtag #nilmdtsawareness or #internationalwaveoflight to share photos.
- Spread awareness. There are informative infographics here which are shareable online or can be printed.
- Join a walk or remembrance activity on October 15th. Check out this link for a list of events in most states.
- DC Mom’s Blog has a Forever Loved Wall. You can post about your loss on this wonderful resource which so beautifully acknowledges that for many people, the loss is a part of their motherhood story. Forward this to a friend who you think would like to be a part of this remembrance wall.
- Seek your own support. If you have experienced a loss and need support, this month can serve as a reminder that you deserve it. Whether through therapy, a support group, or connecting online with other moms who have experienced loss, there are many resources out there to support you. Here are a few suggestions: MISS Foundation, National Share, Star Legacy Foundation