October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. This month serves as a memorial to children that passed during pregnancy or infancy that were gone too soon. Bereaved parents, family members, and friends can remember and honor their little loved ones that have passed during this month in a variety of ways.
Goals of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month aims to bring awareness to children that were lost during pregnancy or infancy.
Unfortunately, far too many parents are faced with grieving the loss of their beloved children.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are 5.6 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births.
- The CDC also reports stillbirth (intrauterine fetal demise) affects 1 in 160 births.
- Recent studies have reported 1 out of 4 pregnancies result in a miscarriage.
No parent should ever have to feel the heartbreak and devastation of losing their child. Parents may feel isolated and alone. They may also struggle to find support in the wake of their baby’s death.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month exists to advocate for and support bereaved families that have lost their children far too soon.
This month-long event also serves to educate the general public about safe pregnancy in an effort to prevent other families from losing their babies during pregnancy or infancy.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness History
October 2021 marks the 33rd annual Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. President Ronald Reagan declared the creation of this awareness month on Oct. 15, 1988.
Reagan noted Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month was a chance to understand the tragedy of losing an unborn or newborn child and support the needs of grieving family members.
“When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.”
— President Ronald Reagan
In addition to the month-long remembrance event, Oct. 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.
Bereaved mothers Robyn Bear, Lisa Brown, and Tammy Novak all lost their babies due to miscarriages. The three mothers petitioned for Oct. 15 to be proclaimed as an official awareness day in 2002.
Now, all 50 states recognize Pregnancy and Infant Awareness Day to support grieving parents around the country.
Resources for Bereaved Parents
Pregnancy is supposed to be a happy and exciting time for parents. No one ever goes into pregnancy expecting to lose their beloved baby. This can make it incredibly difficult for parents to cope with child loss.
Thankfully, this awareness month has brought attention to the needs of grieving parents. There are many helpful resources to provide support for them.
For example, in-person and online support groups can help parents who have endured a miscarriage, stillbirth, or other instances of infant death.
Parents can connect and cope with their loss by sharing stories and listening to others’ journeys. These groups create a sense of community that can help bereaved parents feel supported and not alone.
Therapy can also be another helpful outlet for parents seeking infant loss support. Therapy can give parents a place to talk about their struggles as they navigate life after losing a child. Mental health professionals can provide family members with healthy coping mechanisms.
Loved ones may struggle to find ways to honor their babies. Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep is an organization that gifts bereaved parents with remembrance portraits of their children. This organization created a calendar called “31 Ways to Honor Your Baby” with ways that parents can remember their child for every day of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
How to Show Your Support
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month is a time for the community to remember the children lost far too soon.
Many individuals and organizations are coming together to honor the young children who have passed.
For example, the Star Legacy Foundation is asking the public to participate in the International Wave of Light and light a candle at 7 p.m. on Oct. 15 to remember the babies we have lost.
Other ways to support Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month include:
- Donate to charities that support bereaved parents such as March of Dimes, International Stillbirth Alliance, and more
- Lobby government officials to advocate for pregnancy education and infant loss support
- Obtain a local proclamation for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
- Share information about child loss on social media
- Support parents that have lost children
- Wear Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness colors of pink and blue
There are no words to truly describe the feeling of losing a baby. Although Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month is observed each October, we must honor the babies gone too soon and support their grieving family members all year round.
If you have lost a baby, it is important to remember you are not alone. There are many resources available to help grieving families heal from their loss and honor their children.
The Birth Injury Justice Center team gives our deepest sympathies and condolences to the brave families that have lost a child.
If you or a loved one are looking for emotional support resources to cope with the loss of a child, contact us at (800) 914-1562.