June 14th, 2024

Viva Vitality: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

By Amanda Poll on October 27, 2023.

The month of October marks Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.

Miscarriage and perinatal loss are tragedies that effect not only parents, but siblings, family members and friends.

It is important that we address the stigma parents, and especially women, face after pregnancy and infant loss. Thousands of Canadian families experience a perinatal loss each year. Ensuring that women and families receive appropriate and compassionate care afterwards is essential, as sadly, many experience feelings of shame and self-blame.

When speaking about miscarriage, it is important to understand that they are more common than many may think. According to Stats Canada, 15 to 25 per cent of pregnancies end in miscarriage.

It’s normal to go through a grieving process after a miscarriage, regardless of the length of the pregnancy. Guilt, anxiety, and sadness are common and normal reactions. It’s also normal to want to know why a miscarriage has happened. In most cases a miscarriage is a natural event that could not have been prevented.

Everyone’s grief looks differently and how hard and long the grief lasts will vary. The loss and hormonal swings that result from a miscarriage can cause symptoms of depression. These include feeling sad and hopeless and losing interest in daily activities. It’s important to call a doctor if symptoms of depression last for more than a couple of weeks.

Taking care of your physical and emotional health if you have experienced a pregnancy or infant loss is incredibly important. Speak with your doctor or healthcare provider. To help cope with grief, you may also consider meeting with a support group, or talking with a counsellor.

A healthy pregnancy is usually possible after a miscarriage – it is important to talk with your doctor about any future pregnancy plans. If you’d like to try to get pregnant again, it is usually safe whenever you feel ready. If you don’t want to get pregnant, your doctor can talk with you about birth control options.

It can be difficult to know what to say or do when someone we care about has experienced a pregnancy or infant loss. The most important thing to do is let them know that they are not alone.

More information and resources on pregnancy and infant loss can be found online through MyHealth.Alberta.ca, babysbreathcanada.ca, and http://www.postpartum.net.

You can also reach the Alberta Health Services Access Addiction & Mental Health team at 1-888-594-0211 to get connected with a mental health professional.

Amanda Poll is a health promotion facilitator with Alberta Health Services

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