Supporting Parents through Pregnancy and Infant Loss

By Taylor Oberhelman-McLeod, MA, PLPC

In a world filled with celebrations of life’s most precious moments, there is also a space filled with sadness. Among many things, this space is reserved for those who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss—a journey marked by heartbreak and resilience. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, a time dedicated to acknowledging and embracing both the joyous moments and the heartaches that many families experience. During this month, we take the time to acknowledge and support the countless parents, families, and individuals who have been impacted by the unimaginable grief of losing a pregnancy or an infant. It is a time for compassion, remembrance, and advocacy, as we strive to shed light on a topic that is not often discussed.

Pregnancy and infant loss is a heart-wrenching journey that millions of people worldwide experience. Current data reveals that as many as 26% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, and stillbirth occurs in roughly 1 in 175 pregnancies. Moreover, ectopic pregnancies, multiple miscarriages, and newborn losses take an emotional toll that’s immeasurable. For many, it will be a time filled with silent grieving.

Embracing the Healing Journey

Coping with pregnancy and infant loss is a personal journey, one that unfolds in its own time and in its own way. The grief stages, often described as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, may be experienced differently by each person experiencing a loss. It’s incredibly important to give yourself permission to grieve, seek professional help when needed, and to surround yourself with a support network that understands the challenges of this experience. Below you will find suggestions for seeking support professionally and individually. 

  • Grief Counselors and Therapists: Grief counselors and therapists specialize in supporting individuals through the grieving process. You can find a directory on Postpartum Support International’s website for counselors that have specialized in perinatal mental health and can support you on your journey through pregnancy, postpartum, and pregnancy loss. 

  • Support Groups: Joining a support group of individuals who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss can provide an invaluable sense of community. Postpartum Support International provides online support groups for individuals experiencing pregnancy or infant loss. 

  • Speaking with Your Physician: Physicians can provide medication management for individuals experiencing mental health conditions. 

  • Mindfulness and Self-Care: Practicing mindfulness techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing, can help manage overwhelming emotions. Additionally, self-care routines that prioritize your mental and emotional well-being can be helpful.

While the pain of loss may never fully fade, with time and support, many individuals find ways to honor the memory of their babies and create a path towards healing and acceptance. Here are ways we can honor pregnancy and infant loss during this month to show support, raise awareness, and provide comfort to those who have experienced these losses.

  • Light a Candle: On October 15th, many people around the globe participate in the “Wave of Light.” At 7:00 PM local time, light a candle in remembrance of the babies lost for one hour. Share a photo of your candle on social media to create a virtual wave of light.

  • Plant a Memorial Garden: Plant a tree or a flower garden in memory of the baby. Watching the plants grow and thrive can be a comforting and lasting tribute.

  • Support and Listen: Be a listening ear and a source of support for individuals who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss. Just knowing someone is there to listen and empathize is comforting.

  • Participate in Awareness Campaigns: Share educational materials, graphics, and statistics related to pregnancy and infant loss on social media to help raise awareness.

As we go through October, I invite you to join us in these important conversations and efforts to remember, support, and heal. By getting involved in these conversations we foster a greater understanding of hardships millions face each year and develop a deeper sense of empathy for those navigating these challenges. Together, we can help ensure that the memory of these babies lives on, and that their parents and families find the comfort and strength they need to navigate a difficult situation. 

Seeking Support

If you or a family member are struggling with grief and loss from a pregnancy or infant loss, reach out to your support network, physician, therapist, local moms group, or virtual group offered by Postpartum Support International. If you are seeking therapy in Missouri, I am happy to offer support virtually or in person. I am currently in the process of becoming a certified perinatal mental health counselor and I’d be happy to help you navigate your journey of parenthood. You can reach out or learn more about me here. Other resources available to you: