Did you know pregnancy and infant loss affects roughly one-quarter of all women?
The loss of a baby during or shortly after pregnancy is an unfathomable loss for families.
Every year in October, we honor and remember those affected by miscarriage or stillbirth, SIDS, and pregnancy and infant loss, including recognizing Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day on October 15th.
Let’s take a moment to go over what pregnancy and infant loss is, some facts and statistics, and how you can get involved and show your support.
What is Pregnancy and Infant Loss?
Roughly one-quarter of all women are affected by pregnancy and infant loss.
Though pregnancy loss has different definitions around the world, the death of a baby before 28 weeks of pregnancy is typically referred to as a miscarriage; and the death of a baby at or after 28 weeks are known as stillbirths.
Though miscarriages and stillbirths are not systematically recorded, especially in developing nations, every year, roughly 2 million babies are stillborn.
What’s more, the March of Dimes estimates a global miscarriage rate of between 10-15% in women who knew they were pregnant.
Recognizing Pregnancy and Infant Loss every October is a great way to give those affected a voice and acknowledge the pain, anxiety, and emotions associated with that experience, as well as honor the lives lost and leave a legacy with stories that live on in families lives and hearts. .
Footprints on Hearts
In the United States, nearly one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage, with another 1 in 160 pregnancies ending in stillbirth. Notably, these numbers do not include infant death from preterm labor, diagnosis of life-limiting conditions, or SIDS.
After a pregnancy loss or infant death, most women experience a complex mixture of emotions, including grief, anxiety, confusion, guilt, and fear of loss in a significant pregnancy.
Despite those numbers, an estimated 50-80% of women who experience pregnancy after loss will become pregnant again within 12 months. What’s more, women who are pregnant again after a loss often report having higher symptoms of anxiety during their subsequent pregnancies compared to those who have not experienced pregnancy loss.
In addition, women who are pregnant again after a loss are at an increased risk for postpartum anxiety and depression–even after having a subsequent successful pregnancy and birth.
Increased distress during pregnancy can increase the risk of preterm labor and low birth weight and cause problems with bonding.
It’s not just mothers who are affected; studies show that fathers too experience the emotional stress of pregnancy loss and anxiety of subsequent pregnancies.
In fact, pregnancy loss affects the whole family.
It’s important to remember that there are resources available and that you’re not alone.
How You Can Get Involved
One great way to get involved is to show your support on social media–with an organization like Pregnancy After Loss Support.
Whether or not you’ve been directly affected by pregnancy and infant loss, you can show your support to grieving families by sharing stories, hashtags, and positive wishes on social media using the hashtag #BecauseOfYouMyChild.
PALS is a 501c3 national non-profit focused on offering community support and resources for women experiencing the confusing and conflicting emotions of grief mixed with joy during the journey through pregnancy after loss.
They aim to help grieving mothers and families find support and connection among peers and health care professionals who understand and validate the unique and complex experience of pregnancy after a previous perinatal or child death.
Like most heavy subjects, pregnancy and infant loss isn’t a conversation-starter, but in many ways it should be.
The more we shy away and hide from the problems in our lives, the more those problems grow and spiral out of control.
Instead of denying its existence or hiding in the dark, have an open, honest conversation with a friend, loved one, or a professional like a therapist.
By bringing these issues into the light, we can help raise awareness and reduce the incidence of pregnancy and infant loss.