Raising Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness
Friday, October 15, 2021Lindsay
Every year, the loss of a pregnancy or newborn child devastates families across the U.S. However, these families often lack the support or resources they need to work through their grief, and many bereaved people may feel uncomfortable openly discussing their experiences.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month – an observation of everyone who has lost a child to miscarriage, stillbirth, sudden infant death syndrome or any other cause during pregnancy or infancy.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Is Prevalent in the U.S.
About 10 to 20% of known pregnancies end in a miscarriage, but the actual statistics may be much higher because many women miscarry before realizing they are pregnant. Meanwhile, one in 160 pregnancies results in stillbirth, and there are about 3,400 sudden, unexpected infant deaths each year in the United States.
Despite the prevalence of these experiences, it’s common to feel intense shame and guilt after the loss of a pregnancy or newborn, even if you logically know that it isn’t your fault. Societally, women from all races, religions and upbringings still face enormous stigma surrounding pregnancy and infant loss, and they often do not have any outlet to talk about what they are going through. These combined issues can lead to isolation and trap women in a cycle of grief.
Grieving and Remembering a Lost Child
Ideally, we’d live in a culture that encourages openness and dialogue around pregnancy and infant loss. However, until we reach that goal, finding support for your grief is essential.
Allowing yourself time and space to mourn your baby’s death and the hopes you had for the future is a crucial part of the grieving process. It can be therapeutic to connect with other parents who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss through online or in-person support groups. Professional counseling can also help, especially if your loved ones are not being understanding or you are not noticing any improvement in your mood after several months.
Pregnancy Can Be an Emotional Roller Coaster
While most conversations about pregnancy tend to center on excitement and positivity, many women have an emotionally fraught experience. You shouldn’t feel guilty if your anticipation about starting or adding to your family mingles with uncertainty about the future. All these emotions are normal, and you’ll need to find healthy outlets for coping with them.
You have probably heard that many women experience postpartum depression after delivering a baby, but you may not realize that anxiety during pregnancy is also widespread. Given all the physical, psychological and emotional changes you are going through, some ups and downs are entirely natural. However, speak to your doctor as soon as possible if you are feeling unusually panicky or on edge, are having insomnia or are struggling to concentrate on routine daily tasks. A nagging sense of dread or impending doom may lead you to make risky choices that impact your or your baby’s health.
Women Helping Each Other
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