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National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day: October 15

By HERWriter
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Miscarriage related image Photo: Getty Images

Approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies worldwide will end in miscarriage. According to the World Health Organization, 4.5 million stillbirths occur each year worldwide.
The Lancet reported that more than 7300 babies are stillborn every day.

Approximately 1.2 million stillbirths happen during birth, usually because of delivery complications, and 1.4 million stillbirths happen before birth, usually because of maternal infections or fetal growth abnormalities.

In October 1988, President Ronald Reagan declared October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month saying, "When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them." (October15th.com)

No, there is no name for those parents who have lost a child. There seems to be a divide between those who lose their babies as embryos, those who miscarry later or whose babies are stillborn, and those who lose their children after birth.

It is devastating to have a child who is stillborn or to lose a child after having a chance to hold and get to know them. The pain is more obvious and tangible and people are more understanding of the grief that accompanies such an event.

But for those who miscarry (a term use to describe the loss of a baby before week 20), the pain can be so easily dismissed by onlookers. “Oh, you can try again,” “you have a long life to live, "another baby will come along,” “get over it, move on and try again,” they might say.

What many people don’t realize, however, is that the pain is just as real for these parents because they missed the opportunity to hold their baby. It is extremely difficult to try again, some never do and people who haven’t gone through it are confounded as to why.

Light a Candle Together

Unfortunately, regardless of the circumstances, we who have suffered miscarriages all have something in common, we have all lost a child and reality doesn’t change that truth.

There is an increasing movement to help families remember and support one another on October 15. People all over the world are being asked to light a candle starting at 7 p.m. in whichever time zone they live. “If everyone lights a candle at 7 p.m. and keeps it burning for at least one hour, there will be a continuous WAVE OF LIGHT over the entire world on October 15th.” (October15th.com)

We will Never Forget

Here are some suggestions from the Miscarriage Association in the U.K. to commemorate your baby.

• If you miscarry before 24 weeks gestation, there is no legal registration of your baby’s life. Ask your hospital if they could provide a certificate of your baby’s birth.

• Have a ceremony. We have funerals to remember the lives of people who have died. While it is extremely painful to think of having such a ceremony for a baby, it is just as important for parents, family and friends to ceremonially remember the baby and to say goodbye. It doesn’t lessen the pain but it allows for some closure. Some hospitals organize annual services to remember babies who have died there.

• Ask the hospital chaplain if you can arrange for your baby to be included in the book of remembrance.

• Plant a garden of remembrance.

• Create a memory box.

• Buy something special in memory of your baby.

• Write a letter or poem for your baby.

• Make a donation to a favorite charity or get involved in creating a memorial event for other parents.


Marking Your Loss. Miscarriage Association. Web. Oct 13, 2011. http://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk/support/marking-your-loss

Web. Oct 13, 2011. BabyLossAwareness.org

October 15th Origination. October15th.com. Web. Oct 13, 2011. http://www.october15th.com

Still Birth Alliance. Web. Oct 13, 2011.

Stillbirths: The invisible public health problem. EurekAlert. Public release date: 13-Apr-2011. Retrieved on Oct 13, 2011.

Reviewed October 14, 2011
by Michele Blackberg RN
Edited by Malu Banuelos

Add a Comment5 Comments

On October 15th I will light a candle at 7PM for the baby I miscarried to hypothyroidism at 12 weeks in early 2009. I trusted my doctors completely and never doubted they knew everything there was to know about an underactive thyroid in pregnancy. This is the biggest regret of my life. The Thyroid Federation International estimates there are up to 300 million people worldwide, mostly women, with a dysfunctional thyroid, but over half are unaware of their condition. The scientific research clearly links hypothyroidism to miscarriage and still birth, yet the lack of awareness is pervasive. The day I miscarried my child unnecessarily to hypothyroidism, I vowed to research everything there was to know about hypothyroidism and warn other women. I kept my promise and on October 1st, 2012 I launched my blog Hypothyroid Mom in memory of the child I lost and in dedication to my 2 boys who beat the odds and made it to the world.

October 10, 2012 - 1:55pm
HERWriter (reply to Hypothyroid Mom)

Thank you, Hypothyroid Mom. My article didn't delve in to the causes or potential causes for miscarriage. I only aimed to address the emotional toll it takes and make people aware of the date and give grieving moms (and dads) a chance to remember the life they lost.

October 10, 2012 - 2:08pm
EmpowHER Guest

thanks for the informaithion

October 15, 2011 - 9:31pm

You're welcome.

I forgot to add a reminder that there is an "Empty Arms" support group on this site for families who have lost a child. Anyone is welcome to join.

October 15, 2011 - 7:46am
EmpowHER Guest

Thank you for helping Break the Silence:)


October 15, 2011 - 7:18am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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