Breaking the silence around pregnancy and infant loss

By Christine Morrison

I got pregnant for the second time when my eldest child was just over a year. Everything was progressing normally until we went in for our anatomy scan at 18 weeks, only to discover that our baby had stopped growing two weeks earlier.

This year on October 15th, Ontario is marking Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day for the first time thanks to a private member’s bill introduced by MPP Mike Colle.

The internationally recognized day traces its roots back to a declaration by then American President Ronald Regan who designated the entire month of October 1988 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. The campaign for October 15th as pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day began as an American movement in 2002. The first Canadian province to mark the day was New Brunswick in 2005.

Despite the fact that 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage and, in Canada for every 1000 total births, there are approximately 6 stillborn infants, many people are still surprised at how pervasive pregnancy and infant loss is. Often, it is only after experiencing a loss of your own that you learn about just how many others in your life have been affected by a similar experience.

With Bill 141, not only did Ontario officially proclaim Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day on October 15th of each year, but the government also pledged resources for research and programs supporting families’ impact by pregnancy loss and infant death. This includes training for hospital and health care staff.

Recently, Health Minister Eric Hoskins announced funding for PAIL, the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Network, a non-profit agency that provides group and personal counselling to parents, as well as training for hospitals and health care staff.

Many parents who have experienced a loss have felt a lack of preparedness when dealing with the health system – from people not knowing what to say or what resources to connect you with, to the unpleasantness of sitting in labour and delivery while waiting for your D&E procedure to deliver your baby that has stopped growing.

This year PAIL Network is breaking the silence surrounding pregnancy and infant loss with Pinwheels for PAIL.  For more information on local events or to learn more about/and participate in the International Wave of Light, visit the PAIL website.