National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

October Is Also National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

Close up of lit tea light candles on wooden table. Credit: Dave and Les Jacobs

Did you know that October 15 is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day? Many people aren't aware that this day has been designated a national day of remembrance for miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss.

The resolution to declare October 15 a remembrance day passed the United States House of Representatives on September 28, 2006. It was the result of tireless efforts by a group of miscarriage awareness activists led by Robyn Bear, who had six first-trimester miscarriages in the span of 1997 through 1999 before ultimately receiving a diagnosis of balanced translocation.

In honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, Bear suggests on her website that grieving parents light a candle at 7 p.m. in their respective time zones to create a wave of light around the world in memory of babies lost to pregnancy and infant loss.

In addition to October 15 begin declared a remembrance day, October is also National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month thus making it an excellent time to reflect on your feelings, to do a little something to remember your baby, or to get involved in an pregnancy loss awareness or advocacy event, such as one of the many Walks to Remember around the nation, which raise money for nonprofit organizations or support research into preventing miscarriage and stillbirth. These events tend to occur on weekends throughout the month of October.

What Is Miscarriage?

Miscarriage refers to the death of a baby in the womb before 20 weeks of age.

About 10 to 15 of 100 known pregnancies end in miscarriage. The true number of miscarriages is likely higher because many people miscarry without knowing that they were pregnant.

Most miscarriages happen during the first trimester, or before 13 weeks of gestation. Between 1 and 5 percent of miscarriages occur during 13 and 19 weeks of miscarriage.

What Are the Symptoms of Miscarriage?

Typical symptoms of miscarriage include the following:

  • vaginal bleeding or spotting
  • abdominal pain
  • abdominal cramping

Please note that many pregnant women experience these symptoms during pregnancy and go on to deliver healthy babies. However, if you experience any of these symptoms during pregnancy, please immediately contact your OB-GYN for evaluation.

What Are the Causes of Miscarriage?

We still don't understand all the reasons why miscarriage happens. Nevertheless, here are some possible causes of miscarriage:

  • fetal chromosomal abnormalities
  • blighted ovum
  • alcohol
  • drugs
  • smoking
  • diabetes
  • thyroid disease
  • lupus
  • maternal hormone problems

Of note, more than half of first trimester miscarriages occur because of fetal chromosomal problems.

What Is a Stillbirth?

A stillbirth refers to the delivery of a dead baby after 20 weeks of gestation. Infection and pregnancy complications contribute to most instances of stillbirth. About 24,000 American women experience stillbirth each year, or approximately 1 in 160 pregnancies.

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