October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. Thursday October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, where all around the world people participate in the ‘Wave of Light’ event. A number of other events and activities are also planned to mark the day. Here at NBB, we will be lighting a virtual candle at 7pm (AEDT), and we invite you to light a candle at home, pause, and remember babies who have died, and think of those who have experienced such unbearable loss.
Special events around Australia
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is a time for families to share the memories of their precious child, honour their life, and celebrate all of the babies who are no longer with us but forever light up our hearts. SANDS (Miscarriage, Stillbirth & Newborn Death Support) have a list of events around Australia here, including in-person walks, virtual walks, or projects such as ‘Lullabies and Loss’ in which bereaved families and their loved ones can add their baby’s name to a virtual memorial quilt. You could also put together your own private memorial walk with your family.
In addition, each year Pregnancy and Infant Loss Australia organises a list of landmarks and venues to be lit up in pink and blue to help raise awareness of the devastating impact of miscarriage, stillbirth, and newborn death. See their list of at least 130 locations here.
The tragedy is in the numbers
Sadly, every day in Australia 282 women experience early pregnancy loss and 6 babies are born stillborn (or 1 in every 137 pregnancies). A stillbirth is the birth of a baby who has died any time from 20 weeks into the pregnancy through to the due date. Pregnancies that end before 20 weeks are considered to be miscarriages. 1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage.
Share your experiences openly to help illustrate the size and the impact that pregnancy and infant loss has on the lives of those left behind
Pregnancy and infant loss are taboo and difficult but important topics to talk about. We need to be more open about it, and we need to listen to other people’s stories. It will feel uncomfortable and awkward, but it’s vital that we remove the stigma and silence.
Pregnancy and infant loss is isolating, so reach out to those who are experiencing it
It’s a deeply personal, immensely sad and tragic experience in which families usually grieve alone. If you know someone who has had a loss:
- Let them know you’re thinking about them, even if you don’t get a response. Check in with them weeks and months later; grief doesn’t end overnight. Offer to talk about, but be understanding if they don’t want to.
- If you know the child’s name, grieving parents will appreciate that you acknowlege and call them by their name.
- Don’t forget to reach out to the partner. Both parents are impacted by their baby’s death.
- Avoid using upsetting words like ‘at least’ or ‘everything happens for a reason’. Instead you could ask questions if they feel comfortable answering them.
- You might like to give them something to commemorate their baby to show you care, and as a way to offer something tangible to remember their baby. It could be a candle, a plant, or jewellery with their name or birth stone on it.
- SANDS: 1300 072 637 An independent organisation that provides support in the event of newborn death, stillbirth, and miscarriage.
- Pregnancy Birth and Baby: 1800 882 436 Call for trusted advice and emotional support 7 days a week.
- Bears of Hope: 1300 11 HOPE Provides grief support and care for families who experience the loss of their baby.
- Send your questions to us, and we will share them with our wonderful Facebook community. Let’s keep talking about it, and supporting one another. Break the silence.