What is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month?

Updated

If you lost a child through miscarriage or death after birth, you are not alone.  You may be interested in knowing that October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Let’s discuss what this means and what you can do to raise awareness by sharing your story with others.

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If you’ve never lost a child or had struggles with fertility, you may also want to know how to support those who have by reading this article. 

What is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month? 

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month is a month set aside to raise awareness of children lost to stillbirth, miscarriage, or SIDS. 

It is estimated that tens of thousands of American families grieve the loss of a baby each year, but the real numbers are difficult to determine. October has been set aside each year to recognize this loss. Besides supporting parents who have lost a child, the month is also a time to educate others about the most recent medical research regarding this subject.

Through the education campaign during Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, social media users can learn the following facts regarding pregnancy loss in America and around the world:

  • One in four women will lose an infant during pregnancy, birth, or infancy.
  • Today, 70 sets of parents will give birth to a baby who dies in utero.
  • 1 in 160 pregnancies result in stillbirth.
  • 1 in 10 obstericians consider leaving the profession after being devastated by a stillbirth.

While these statistics are sobering and sad, they need to be shared. Parents who lost children need to know they are not alone.  

Origin

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month began in 1988 as a result of a proclamation of then-President Ronald Reagan. Proclamation 5890 stated that “approximately one million pregnancies in the United States end in miscarriage, stillbirth, or the death of the newborn child.”

This month “offers us the opportunity to increase our understanding of the great tragedy involved in the deaths of unborn and newborn babies. It also enables us to consider how, as individuals and communities, we can meet the needs of bereaved parents and family members and work to prevent causes of these problems.”

The proclamation did more than just raise awareness. According to Reagan’s official statement, more than 700 support groups led by health care professionals and specially trained hospital staff members were developed to help newly bereaved parents. 

ยป MORE: Instead of ashes, create a beautiful stone. Parting Stone helps you keep your loved ones close.

 

When is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month?

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month is commemorated each year in October. October 15 is World Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. 

How Do People Acknowledge Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month? 

Are you looking for a way to acknowledge Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month? Here are some ideas for both those who have lost infants and those who wish to offer support. 

Light a candle

Even though the entire month of October is set aside to acknowledge this devastating occurrence, October 15 is World Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. At 7 p.m. local time, light a candle in honor of all the deceased children of the world. Keep the wave of light going for at least one hour. 

Share the websites of these organizations on your social media pages

Several organizations promote Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Visit the websites of Star Legacy Foundation, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, the Miscarriage Association, and Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS).

All of these organizations offer invaluable resources for grieving parents and those who love them. You may also consider donating to one of these organizations to support their work of sharing the word. 

Share your story

One of the best ways to raise awareness is to tell others your story. If you had a miscarriage or suffered the loss of an infant, consider telling others what happened either in person or through your social media accounts.

Others may not know this about you, and they may be willing to reach out to you if they are hurting after a loss.

Hold a fundraiser

During the month of October, do something to raise funds for a pregnancy loss charity.

Hold a bake sale or garage sale. Host a charity dinner. Do a fun run. You can raise funds in specific memory of an infant or support all parents who are grieving.

Write a letter to local or state government officials

Urge your elected officials to support legislation written to prevent stillbirth and offer support to families who experience negative pregnancy outcomes. 

Grieve with the family

If you know someone who recently lost a child, grieve with them. They are mourning the death of someone they loved and they need your support.

Spend time with them, use the name of the child in conversation, and say that you are “sorry for their loss.” You may also consider bringing a meal to the family.

Be careful of what you say

Here are some phrases to avoid when talking with a family that lost a child:

  • “It’s probably for the best.”
  • “You’re young, and you can have more.”
  • “There must have been something wrong with the baby.”
  • “At least the baby didn’t suffer.”
  • “You’ll be a parent someday.”
  • “At least you didn’t know the baby.”

Purchase a memorial gift for the family

Consider purchasing a personalized memorial gift that the family can display in their home or garden, like stepping stones, wind chimes, figurines, photo frames, ornaments, personalized jewelry, a memory box, or a donation to a favorite children’s charity. You could also send a card, a floral arrangement, or a houseplant to the grieving family.

Look online for DIY sympathy gifts. You may be able to create something using one of these quotes about baby loss.

Understand if a grieving family or couple wants solitude

If you are pregnant or have children, you need to understand that a grieving person or couple may not want to be around you right now.

It may be too painful to be around a person with a healthy pregnancy or someone who recently had a baby. Try not to take it personally. Instead, give them their necessary space.

Get a memorial tattoo

If you lost a baby due to miscarriage or stillbirth, you might consider getting a miscarriage tattoo. Talk with a tattoo artist to get ideas, but you may consider footprints, broken hearts, angel wings, or the baby’s name.

Keep the baby’s memory alive

To keep your baby’s memory alive, you may consider making a pregnancy memory book.

Even if the pregnancy did not result in the birth of a baby, creating a scrapbook is a lovely way to keep the infant’s memory alive. 

Complete a random act of kindness

It’s easy to isolate yourself as you mourn a loss. If you lost an infant, consider using the baby’s birthday to perform random acts of kindness each year. Start by paying for a stranger’s coffee. Ask a teacher if you could support a child in her classroom by buying supplies or paying for school lunches. Drop off cookies at your local police station or fire station. Take bouquets of flowers to nursing homes.

Use the day to spread cheer to others, just as your child would have spread cheer to you.

Learn how to prevent stillbirths

Visit one of the websites above to learn how to prevent stillbirths and share this information with others.

Show Empathy

The best way to commemorate Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month is to show empathy. Think before you speak. The woman you tease about not having any children may have had several miscarriages. The person you guilt into attending a baby shower may have just suffered from a stillbirth. Don’t tell women their “biological clocks are ticking” — they could have previously lost an infant. 

The world would be a kinder place if more people thought before they spoke. If that is the sole result of commemorating Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month each year, the month would be a success. 


Sources

  1. “Proclamation 5890 -- Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, 1988.” Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. 25 October 1988. www.reaganlibrary.gov/archives/speech/proclamation-5890-pregnancy-and-infant-loss-awareness-month-1988#:~:text=Now%2C%20Therefore%2C%20I%2C%20Ronald,and%20Infant%20Loss%20Awareness%20Month.

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