Annually in October, we honor Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. As we head into November, it's important to reflect on the impact of this month.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, a time to honor the little ones lost and forever loved; A time to recognize the families who have experienced unbelievable tragedies such as miscarriage, stillbirth, Sudden Infant Loss Syndrome (SIDS), or other causes. This month serves as an opportunity for individuals, organizations, and communities to increase awareness around the prevalence and impact of pregnancy and infant loss, providing a voice to those who remain silent. Let’s break the silence and support these grieving families.
Roughly 10-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage prior to 20 weeks, and every year about 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States, occurring toward the end of pregnancy or during delivery. In recent years, the rate of SIDS within the first year after birth has been approximately 38.4 deaths per 100,000 infants, though there are no definitive causes confirmed by researchers. In fact, each type of pregnancy and infant loss has several potential causes, though unfortunately there is no one-size-fits-all. It is important for individuals of reproductive age who are interested in conceiving to talk with their healthcare providers about the various risk factors and preventative measures they can take to keep themselves healthy.
As you can imagine, the emotional impact of losing a baby is insurmountable, whether born sleeping, carried but never held, held but never taken home, or taken home but unable to stay; the pain families go through is carried for a lifetime. As support persons, we must give folks the space they need to grieve, for however long it is needed. If you are looking for ways to provide loved ones with support, offer them your own personal stories of loss and talk about the impact these experiences have had on you, giving them room to speak freely and honestly about their tragedy. The more we talk about pregnancy and infant loss, the less stigma around the topic there will be; and families will be better for it. Use their baby's name if they've given one - validating their experience. Be prepared to hear the hard and the raw and if you're not - it's not advised to ask; those who have lost a baby are often afraid to talk about how they're feeling because of holding the emotional responses of others. Familiarize yourself with local resources in your community and share them with your loved ones. Join remembrance events happening in your area this month to show your support and make connections with members of this vulnerable population. Make a donation to an organization advocating or providing resources to those experiencing pregnancy and infant loss. You CAN make a difference!
Head to Postpartum Support International (https://www.Postpartum.net/), the March of Dimes (https://www.MarchofDimes.org/), the CDC (https://www.CDC.gov/), or Mayo Clinic (https://www.MayoClinic.org/) for more information on pregnancy and infant loss, the causes and risk factors, and prevention measures.
Losing a baby is tragic, no matter how you break it down; no matter how early on in a pregnancy or if the baby is already earthside. Having support if experiencing pregnancy and infant loss is essential for all grieving the loss. Connecting with a therapist, a grief group, or other support is both encouraged and can be essential in the grieving process. These supports are not solely for the immediate family either.
The Life Workshop is committed to providing the support families need to heal, whether through individual or couples counseling, support groups, education, or providing resources in your community. If you or someone you know has experienced this unbelievable loss, please reach out when you are ready; we are here for you during this difficult time and beyond.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, September 30). Stillbirth: Pregnancy and infant loss. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/stillbirth/features/pregnancy-infant-loss.html#:~:text=How%20Many%20Babies%20Are%20Stillborn,stillborn%20in%20the%20United%20States.&text=Each%20year%20about%2024%2C000%20babies%20are%20stillborn%20in%20the%20United%20States.,-Milan's%20Story
March of Dimes. (2023, February). Miscarriage. https://www.marchofdimes.org/find-support/topics/miscarriage-loss-grief/miscarriage#:~:text=For%20women%20who%20know%20they,20%20percent)%20end%20in%20miscarriage.
Mayo Clinic. (2023, July 19). Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sudden-infant-death-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20352800#:~:text=Sudden%20infant%20death%20syndrome%20is,often%20die%20in%20their%20cribs.
Salib, V. (2023, March 14). Exploring theories on the cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Life Science Intelligence. https://lifesciencesintelligence.com/features/exploring-theories-on-the-cause-of-sudden-infant-death-syndrome-sids#:~:text=Although%20no%20definitive%20causes%20of,the%20source%20of%20the%20condition.&text=March%2014%2C%202023%20%2D%20Despite%20declining,births%20in%20the%20United%20States.