Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month takes place in the United States in October each year. In addition, to Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, a second observation takes place in October. This is to remember pregnancy and infant loss throughout the world. On October 15, World Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, candles are lit at 7:00 pm local time. The purpose is to create The International Wave of Light. The candles remain lit for at least one hour to create a continuous “wave of light” across all time zones. This covers the entire globe and is one way to raise awareness of pregnancy and infant loss without saying a word.
Personalized Cause recognizes pregnancy and infant loss with its pink and blue awareness ribbon pins. These ribbon pins are available in personalized and non-personalized versions. Each personalized pin can be personalized with a name, date or message on its center bar. This ribbon pin is a beautiful way to carry the memory of a child with you at all times.
History of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness MontH
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan declared October as a month to recognize the unique grief of bereaved parents. He made this declaration in an effort to demonstrate support to families of those who have suffered this tragic loss. Bringing awareness to pregnancy and infant loss not only increases the likelihood that grieving families will receive understanding. In addition to support, it also results in improved education and prevention efforts. These efforts may ultimately reduce the incidence of infant and pregnancy losses.
How do I Respond to Someone Who Has Experienced Pregnancy and Infant Loss?
It is often difficult to know what to say when someone experiences a difficult and senseless loss. This is particularly true about the death of a child. Many times, knowing how to help can be a challenge. While each situation is different, there are typically universal gestures that families appreciate during this difficult time. One important way to show your care is to reassure families that they are not alone.
More than words, sometimes, a simple gesture can make a tremendous difference. Examples include acts like giving a hug or holding someone’s hand. Another is writing a card with a few words of support and sitting with them. Another way is to wear a pink and blue awareness ribbon. This can make a difference. Gestures such as these may seem insignificant and less than what they need. But, loving gestures, kindness, and understanding will be remembered in the days and months ahead.
It’s also important to remember that grieving is a personal journey. Each person grieves differently. A husband and wife may grieve separately and differently. It is also important to be sensitive to each person’s grieving process. Their reactions may also be different. For most parents, emotions will wax and wane. There will be various stages of grief for some time to come. The roller-coaster ride of emotions will be different, perhaps each day. And, working through the emotions will be on each parent’s terms. Let them grieve. Just be there for them, without judgment or advice. Listen if they want to talk, and be silent if they don’t. Just be there for them with gentle acts of kindness and support.
The Experience of Loss
It’s important to remember that some parents may have had some time with their baby. Others, however, may have had little if any time at all. But attachments from parent to child often begin in early pregnancy. Therefore, the loss may feel t as though the child had lived for longer. This is especially true during stillbirth, or after the loss of a pregnancy.
Siblings and Infant Loss Awareness
This loss may also be experienced by other family members, including siblings. Although very young children may not be able to understand the death of a new or future sibling, they may feel the loss through their parents. Sadness will be present in their environment. It is important to let them speak, too. Also, it is important to support them as parents may be focused on either making arrangements or dealing with their own emotions. It is important to acknowledge their loss, and allow siblings to feel and express their emotions.
Two ways for young children to express their emotions are through drawing and play. Stay with them as they express their feelings in a way that is age-appropriate. Let them ask questions, if they have them, and answer in an age-appropriate way. Siblings may have looked forward to welcoming a new baby into the home. For this reason, they may not understand if a baby is lost after birth to SIDS or some other related death.
How Children Process Their Emotions of Loss
Although adults or parents may want to prevent or shield their other children from the loss they feel, most children are aware that something sad has happened. This is true without even being told. Including other children can help both parents and siblings through the grieving process. Young children grow and re-process the loss as they become older and have more ability to understand grief and death. They may want to ask additional questions about the loss. It is part of their development process, and important to answer their questions. Support them without making them feel that their questions are inappropriate.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Statistics
Pregnancy and infant loss affects one in four women. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), non-Hispanic Black women and American Indian/Alaska Native women are twice as likely to experience stillbirth as compared to Non-Hispanic Whites, Asian or Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics. Research supports that there is a lower quality of maternal health care, socioeconomic factors, and health care disparities that closely tie racial disparities to maternal and infant deaths. Recently, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, The NIH Office of the Director, and the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health launched an initiative called the Implementing Maternal Health and Pregnancy Outcome Vision for Everyone (IMPROVE) to improve and reduce these disparities.
A Simple Gesture – A Pink and Blue Awareness Ribbon
It is the work of Personalized Cause to bring awareness to Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and to support those who have experienced the loss of a child, whether through stillbirth, miscarriage, SIDS, or an untimely death, with our pink and blue awareness ribbon. Wear a ribbon pin to show your support for someone going through this type of loss. Remember that a simple gesture of support and respect can make a world of difference during a difficult time.