We like to think that in our highly sophisticated medical world we can control every aspect of our health, especially during pregnancy. We have come to believe that because of our medical advances, we can predict and avoid every possible bad outcome.
But the truth is, even with all the advances in medicine, including some very high-tech pregnancy screening tools, one in four pregnancies in the United States will end in miscarriage before the 20th week of pregnancy, and nearly 1% of the pregnancies that do continue will end with a stillbirth. That’s about 24,000 stillbirths in the US every year. Here in Florida, there are approximately 1,400 stillbirths every year, about 4 out of every 1,000 births.
But these aren’t just statistics. These are babies. These are families who have suffered a difficult and devastating loss. The joy, excitement and anticipation of having a baby is suddenly cut short, replaced by grief, questions about what happened, and perhaps even guilt, wondering if there was something they missed or could have done differently to prevent the loss.
WHY IT HAPPENS:
With October being Infant Loss Awareness Month, let’s look at some of the causes of miscarriage and stillbirth, as well as some of the local and national resources for families who are struggling with a loss.
According to the March of Dimes, there are a number of things that can put a baby at risk for miscarriage or stillbirth. Some can be changed and/or controlled to some extent by the mother, such as the use of street drugs, drinking alcohol, smoking, taking prescription pain killers and having a healthy BMI at the time of conception. But other health factors, including high blood pressure, diabetes, pre-eclampsia and premature labor, are not as easy to predict and/or control. Women who are in their teens or over the age of 35 are at higher risk for miscarriage and stillbirth. Certain kinds of infections such as Fifth’s Disease and Listeriosis, which is a type of food poisoning, can also cause complications. And sometimes, sadly, there is no known cause for a miscarriage or a stillbirth.
Families who are suffering the loss of a baby, whether it happens in the first trimester or the last, need the love and support of their families. It’s hard to know what to say or do for a family who is experiencing such grief. This website has some helpful guides. Experts say to offer meals, pick up their other children for school and activities, walk the dog, fold their laundry – simple, everyday things that are just too much for grieving parents to take care of.
Let’s hope none of us ever has to share this list of resources, but here it is, just in case:
WHERE TO GO FOR HELP:
AMEND: Aiding Mothers Enduring Neo-Natal Death http://www.amend-fla.org
Mission: Providing moral support and encouragement to people that have experienced loss during and after pregnancy, due to miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss.
Services: telephone support, monthly meetings, lending library, literature, professional guest speakers.
Program Director: Karen Frazier
Free Support Groups, 8pm – 10pm (contact Karen for exact locations):
North Tampa: 3rd Wednesday of the month
South Tampa: 1st Thursday of the month
Several support groups in Hillsborough and Pinellas
MANATEE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: Pregnancy Loss Support Group www.manateememorial.com
Purpose: Support for anyone who has experienced miscarriage, stillbirth or newborn loss.
Patient Tower, Meditation Room
206 2nd Street East
Bradenton, FL 34208
Free Support Groups, 7:30pm
1st Tuesday of the month
HEALING HEARTS: http://babylosscomfort.com/remembering-baby/
FIRST CANDLE: 800-221 -7437 http://www.firstcandle.org/
BABY CENTER LOSS COMMUNITIES: http://community.babycenter.com/post/a32058971/loss_groups
CDC RESOURCE LIST: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/stillbirth/resources.html
THROUGH THE HEART: http://www.throughtheheart.org/
SIDS: Florida SIDS Alliance: 800-743-7352
March of Dimes Share: http://share.marchofdimes.org/
National Institutes of Health (statistics and research): https://www.nichd.nih.gov/research/supported/Pages/scrn.aspx