Jump to content
Grief Healing Discussion Groups

National Pregnancy And Infant Loss Awareness Month

Recommended Posts

The following comes to us from Nina Bennett, dear and kindred spirit, bereaved grandmother and author of the beautiful book, Forgotten Tears: A Grandmother's Journey through Grief.

National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

By Nina Bennett

In order to increase understanding and awareness of the over 1 million deaths each year of babies in pregnancy or in the first few months of life, in 1988 President Ronald Reagan signed a resolution declaring October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. The Awareness Month, meant to bring to light the devastating losses suffered by so many each year, is marked by ceremonies, fund-raising walks and memorial services.

I know all too well the devastation of this kind of loss. My precious granddaughter Maddy, after a healthy full term pregnancy and normal labor, with no indication of fetal distress, slid still from her mother’s womb. She was a perfectly formed, beautiful baby, with no known reason for not surviving delivery. My response to anything is research, and what I discovered while seeking information and support added yet another layer of pain to my devastation.

According to the March of Dimes, stillbirth occurs in about 1 in 200 pregnancies. Each year in the United States more than 26,000 babies are stillborn. Simply put, 71 babies are stillborn in this country every single day. 142 mothers and fathers return with empty arms to a home filled with shattered dreams. 284 grandparents are devastated on a daily basis, feeling isolated in their own grief and powerless to help their children. The medical care providers are left shaken and mourning as well. Up to half of all stillbirths occur in pregnancies that had seemed problem free. The International Stillbirth Alliance reports that “unexplained stillbirth in late pregnancy is the single largest cause of death in perinatal life in the Western world.” And these statistics are only for stillbirth. This may actually be an underestimate, because there are no national standards for reporting stillbirth.

In 2003, the National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD), which is one of the National Institutes of Health, announced funding for a five year national research effort to study stillbirth in the United States. The Stillbirth Research Collaborative Network consists of five research centers around the country. While some factors leading to stillbirth are known, the cause of more than half of all stillbirths is not. In the press release announcing this initiative, NICHD states that the number of reported deaths from stillbirth is equal to that of all infant deaths combined. The Stillbirth Research Collaborative Network has enlisted specialists from many disciplines, including grief counselors.

In 2001 Arizona took a commendable step by passing legislation to issue a Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth. Since then, 13 other states have joined Arizona. Beyond the psychological benefit to parents, which is enormous, this legislation allows for increased accuracy in tracking and reporting stillbirth. The toll stillbirth takes extends far beyond the medical cost of caring for women and their babies. There is no way to assess the emotional impact on families eagerly awaiting a new member. Perinatal loss is rarely mentioned in our society, thus disenfranchising not only parents but also grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, from their grief. As a society, we have made great strides in acknowledging and supporting family members bereaved by cancer, which once was an unspoken illness. It is time for our society to take action to reduce the incidence of perinatal loss and infant mortality, to speak openly about the void left by the death of a baby, and to acknowledge the large numbers of its citizens who struggle to rebuild meaning in a life challenged by the most horrific loss of all.

© 2006 by Nina Bennett. Printed with permission of the author.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Marty T,

Thank you so very much for sharing this information with us, It was thoughtful of you... This is why I love this website so very much because people do understand what things we all are going through and you are never judged either Take care Shelley

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...