In October 1988, President Reagan proclaimed October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. This month is an occasion to recognize the grief and sorrow patients experience when they suffer a miscarriage, pregnancy loss, stillbirth or death of an infant. It also is a time to remember and celebrate the hopes and dreams parents had for their lost angels.
In announcing this commemorative month, President Reagan poignantly described the need to understand the unique heartbreak bereaved parents feel:
When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses his or her partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn't a word to describe them." (October15th.com)
The Spectrum of Pregnancy and Infant Loss
A miscarriage usually refers to a fetal loss in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, and a stillbirth refers to a loss 20 or more weeks after a pregnancy begins. Stillbirth can be further classified by when it occurs: early, late, term, or during childbirth.
It is estimated that 10-20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, with more than 80 percent of these losses occurring before 12 weeks. One percent of pregnancies will result in stillbirths.
To prospective parents who have yearned for children of their own and who have been in fertility treatment, pregnancy loss at any stage is overwhelming. This includes when treatment cycles fail or anytime after a confirmed pregnancy, including in its earliest days.
We Walk With You on This Journey
As infertility professionals, we are there for our patients with support and understanding--even when the wider community may not know how to react. Many couples may not have told their friends or loved ones they are undergoing infertility treatment. Even after becoming pregnant, they may have been reluctant to share the joyous news until the pregnancy was further along. So when they suffer a loss, they feel alone and grieve in silence. They may blame themselves, fearing they did something wrong. It is our job to try to reassure them, provide them with clinical explanations, if possible, and offer hope for the future.
At HRC Fertility, we strive to deliver news about pregnancy test results with the utmost consideration and empathy. We hold our patients' hands, both literally and figuratively, as you undergo the initial pregnancy tests and the first ultrasound to confirm a heartbeat. We understand your fears and trepidations and when the worst happens, we mourn with you and are available to provide the support you need.
Keep the Memories Alive on October 15
Around the world on October 15 at 7pm, parents who have experienced a pregnancy loss will be lighting a candle and releasing a balloon into the skies in memory of their lost dreams and babies. Everyone is urged to keep the candle burning for at least one hour; organizers predict a continuous wave of light over the entire world. Indeed, pregnancy and infant loss is a universal experience that affects millions of men and women throughout the world. What a beautiful sight this will be!
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Resources