October 15: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

October 15th marks an important day for many families. A day we wish didn’t need to be recognized but are thankful that it exists. October 15th marks Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day in the US, Canada and some parts of the UK. A day for those of us who have suffered the loss of a child to ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death to come together to raise awareness and honor those children no longer here with us.

Established in the United States in 2002 and in Canada in 2005, October 15th is a legislatively recognized day to raise awareness for pregnancy and infant loss. The purpose is to increase support for those of us in the aftermath and for those who will be affected directly or indirectly by this loss. Many of us who have experienced loss through miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal loss can feel silenced, invisible and alone. A grief that is not often talked about because it is uncomfortable but the need to talk is very strong for those who have experienced loss.

Typically observed through community walks, flower/tree planting, balloon release vigils and other remembrance ceremonies, Pregnancy and Infant Loss is also known for the International Wave of Light Ceremony.

Every October 15th at 7pm, in which ever time zone you are in, participants light a candle for at least one hour in memory of their lost children and in support for others who have experienced a loss. The result is a continuous wave of light for a 24 hour period honoring our children’s memory.

There are many organizations out there working to increase awareness and support year round:


Unspoken Grief: Breaking the silence of miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal loss. Working to build a community of individuals and families who have been touched directly or indirectly and create a supportive community to remove the stigma through sharing our grief. http://unspokengrief.com

Mason’s Cause: Infant Loss Support: One Place. Endless Hope. Mason’s Cause is the ONE place needed when you are faced with infant loss. Our generous collection of website, blog, and article links provides parents, friends and family with the answers they need NOW. http://masonscause.org

Cora’s Story: Cora Mae McCormick died at five days old of congenital heart disease (CHD). Now she saves lives. No mother should find out about the most common birth defect from the coroner. Cora’s story is spread to raise awareness of the most common birth defect (congenital heart defects), especially with expecting parents and most of all, spread Cora’s beauty. http://www.corasstory.org/

Healing Hearts Baby Loss Comfort: Healing Hearts Baby Loss Comfort was created in response to the reality that some pregnancies do not end happily. A place for women to feel comfortable looking for real, physical comfort, herbal remedies and spiritual nurturing, as well as a space to find resources, honor their grief and express their loss http://www.babylosscomfort.com

Count the Kicks: Chloe was stillborn just 3 days before her due date. Her umbilical cord had become tangled around her neck. Her death was classed as unexplained. 70% of stillbirths in the UK are classed as “Cause Unknown” – 90% are avoidable deaths, who could be saved purely by increasing awareness of risks. Count the Kicks wants to beat the taboo surrounding miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death and work to reduce stillbirth & neonatal deaths http://countthekicks.org.uk/

Second trimester miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death brings with it an added trigger for your grief. Your breasts will likely begin to produce milk and with that the physical pain of engorged breasts.  Some women may be offered medications to help dry up your milk but there are natural ways to reduce the pain of engorged breasts as well.

Reducing engorgement:

  • Ibuprofen is a great anti-inflammatory medication that can help reduce the pain associated with the engorged breasts. Talk to your doctor or a pharmacist to determine if you are safe to take it.
  • Cold compresses can be used for 20 minutes at a time to reduce swelling. Avoid heat.
  • Chilled cabbage leaves placed on the breasts can also provide comfort.

Using a product like Organic No More Milk Tea from Earth Angel Mama Baby can help reduce the time it takes for your breasts to stop producing milk.  The added bonus of a calming hot tea can be a huge comfort as well.

Another option that has can be healing for moms of second trimester miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death dealing with engorged breasts is to pump their milk and donate it to babies in need. The feeling of being able to do good from your child’s death can help bring some light into the fog of grief.

The following short video shows the story of how a mother found meaning in her daughter’s stillbirth by donating her breast milk. {please note: Video contains emotions of a woman after hearing her child has no heartbeat. Might be difficult to watch for some}

Mother’s Milk (2009) from Kevin Douglas West on Vimeo.

For more information on where you can donate your breast milk contact the following organizations:

The loss of a child through miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death can feel very isolating. By coming together to raise our voices and share our stories we can help break the isolation and increase support for other families living through perinatal grief. What resources have brought you or a loved one comfort during loss?

You are not alone.

Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Devan McGuinness is a mother to three living children and survivor of 9 miscarriages and one stillbirth.  Founder of the online support site Unspoken Grief, Devan works to raise awareness of perinatal grief and remove the stigma to increase support. For more information visit UnspokenGrief.com and join us on Facebook and Twitter.

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11 Comments | Last revised on 10/15/2011

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