In 1988, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed October to be the month that we mourn the babies who died too soon. Pregnancy Loss and Awareness month celebrates those infants who were lost through miscarriage, stillbirth, or other causes.
In addition to dedicating an entire month of honoring these babies, it is also an awareness month to help us all understand what may cause these infant deaths and work to prevent them in the future.
Miscarriage is more common than we may realize because it’s not often talked about, but it is estimated that it occurs in approximately 10 to 15% of pregnancies. Unfortunately, there is still not enough research as to why miscarriages occur. Some possible causes include diabetes, smoking, drinking, drugs, maternal hormone issues, thyroid disease, and fetal abnormalities. Once a woman finds out she is pregnant, or as soon as she begins trying to conceive, it is in the baby’s (and mother’s) best interest to quit smoking, drugs, and drinking, as well as seek medical attention for new or ongoing medical conditions. It is also important to note that miscarriages can still occur even if the mother is healthy.
Another loss we recognize during October is stillbirth. In the U.S. it is estimated that about 1 in 160 pregnancies end in stillbirth. Stillbirth is when a baby is delivered but has already died at some point after 20 weeks. Most stillbirths are due to infection or pregnancy complications, such as placental problems, birth defects, or growth restrictions. Stillbirth is more likely to occur when the mother is over 35, smoking, drinking, drug use, malnutrition, and inadequate prenatal care. Again it is important to quit bad habits and get medical attention as soon as you find out you are pregnant to have the best chance of carrying a healthy baby to full term.
No matter the cause of death, each infant should be grieved and honored, especially during the month of October. Some ways to honor your own loss or those in your community include:
- Start or join a support group
- Participate in a walk or fundraiser that helps prevent infant loss
- Donate to a cause you believe in
- Bring awareness to pregnancy loss by sharing your story or tips to help women have a healthy pregnancy
- Volunteer your time at the hospital
- Plant a tree or flowers in honor of your baby
For more information, Request An Appointment or contact Sher Fertility Institute New York at (646) 792-7476.