October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month - Local and National Resources

Trigger warning: This post deals with sensitive issues related to pregnancy and infant loss.

October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month. Although approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, there is a great deal of silence, shame, and misinformation surrounding the subject. A 2016 TIME Health article, “Most Americans Don’t Know the First Thing About Miscarriages,” reporting on an Obstetrics & Gynecology survey of 1,000+ people, revealed a profound lack of knowledge amongst Americans about basic facts of miscarriage.

The data shows

  • An underestimation of miscarriage rates.

    • Myth: Survey respondents thought the occurrence of miscarriage was close to 6% or less.

    • Fact: ~30% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.

  • The belief that pregnant women’s behavior may have caused the miscarriage.

    • Myth: 22% of survey respondents thought “lifestyle choices during pregnancy” were among the most frequent causes of miscarriages.

    • Fact: Genetic issues are responsible for most miscarriages.

  • An internalization of the myths surrounding miscarriage and feelings of blame, isolation, and shame amongst those affected by miscarriage.

    • 47% of men and women surveyed who reported that they or their partner had experienced miscarriage said they felt “guilty.”

    • 41% said they felt they had “done something wrong” and reported feeling “alone.”

    • 28% said they felt “ashamed.”

  • However, these feelings of isolation, shame, and guilt, decreased with basic information about the frequency of miscarriage and knowing someone who had also been through a miscarriage.

 Image from pinkrosemama.com

Image from pinkrosemama.com

I am the 1 in 4

Such surveys shed light on the importance of speaking out about pregnancy loss and ensuring that people experiencing pregnancy and infant loss have access to accurate information and resources. On a personal note, I am also one of the 1 in 4. Before I had my daughters, I was pregnant with a little boy, whom I miscarried in the second trimester. I felt incredibly alone and wondered what I could have done differently to prevent the miscarriage. I was also unaware of resources available to my husband and I, both local and national. In the hope of helping to reduce the isolation and misinformation surrounding pregnancy and infant loss, this post concludes with a roundup of some local and national resources. In researching and compiling this list, I was grateful to see how many local resources there are now, versus a decade ago when I was facing this issue. Please make yourself aware of these resources and pass them on if you know someone who might be in need of them.

Local Austin Resources

AustinBorn
AustinBorn, a modern parenting center, offers whole family support for conception, pregnancy, labor, birth, postpartum, and parenting. AustinBorn doulas support families through all types of pregnancy loss. They provide emotional, spiritual, physical and informational support before, during and/or after the birth of a miscarried or stillborn baby. They also give support in situations of fatal diagnosis, carrying to term, abortion, NICU care, and pregnancy after loss. In addition, AustinBorn provides a good listing of pregnancy and infant loss resources.

The Austin Center for Grief and Loss
This non-profit organization focused on grief and trauma assists children and adults as they move from loss to life, transforming their grief through therapy, support, education, training and consultation. The Austin Center for Grief & Loss provides services to individuals and families who have experienced a loss due to the death of a loved one from illness, miscarriage, accident, suicide, or violence; along with those who have experienced loss due to divorce or separation. They offer individual, family, and couples therapy, as well as peer support groups for pregnancy and infant loss. Austin Grief offers a sliding scale fee for those unable to afford the suggested fee.

Empowered Birthing
Empowered Birthing, a professional doula service, offers a range of bereavement services, including prenatal support (if circumstances allow) to discuss options and planning; labor support in the place of your choosing; assistance with gathering mementos, photography, bathing baby; planning farewell ceremonies; referrals to community resources, including counseling, support groups, financial help for funeral costs; and postpartum support, including organizing meals and housekeeping. There are no fees for bereavement support; however, Empowered Birthing accepts love offerings so that they can continue to provide this service to other families. Empowered Birthing also provides a good list of local and national resources for pregnancy and infant loss. Several of the local support groups included in this post were pulled from Empowered Birthing’s site.*

The HOPE (Helping Ourselves through this Perinatal Experience) Support Group
HOPE Group is a support group specifically designed for those in the Austin and Central Texas area who have experienced a perinatal loss. It is a closed group, meaning the same individuals attend each of the six consecutive weekly meetings. In Austin, they are normally held on Tuesday nights from 6:30-8pm, 3-4 times per year in the Community Room on the fourth floor of the Ronald McDonald House at 1315 Barbara Jordan Blvd. The Ronald McDonald House and Charities of Central Texas sponsors the groups so they are free of charge. The groups are facilitated by a LPC, Worth Kilcrease. For more information or to register, call (512) 658-2674 or email worth@kilcrease.com.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Group* - is held on the first and third Thursday of the month at 7pm in Classroom #3 at Round Rock Medical Center.  The SIDS support group is held on the fourth Thursday, and Pregnancy After Loss on the second Thursday, of the month. Facilitated by Dr. Kelly Boyd. Contact (512) 341-6493.

Pregnancy Loss Support Group* - Meets the first Sunday of the month from 2-4pm in the Auditorium at St. David's South Austin Hospital. The group is for families who have lost a baby due to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillborn or early infant death. Contact (512) 282-4123.

The Pregnancy and Postpartum Health Alliance of Texas (PPHA)
The Pregnancy and Postpartum Health Alliance (PPHA) is a volunteer driven non-profit dedicated to increasing support for families struggling with Perinatal Mood or Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) (including depression, anxiety, OCD and psychosis) in Central Texas. Their main initiatives include building alliances in the community, maintaining a website with links to vital resources, providing a database of local providers who have demonstrated expertise in treating PMDs, and offering three programs that provide direct services.

To find grief support groups in Texas, Seton has a good listing of services by county.

National Resources

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Directory
Resources for Infertility, Termination, Pregnancy Loss, Stillbirth, and Infant Death, including listings of national organizations; support groups/organizations; and counseling/psychiatry.

Share Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support
Share Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support is a community for anyone who experiences the tragic death of a baby. They serve parents, grandparents, siblings, and others in the family unit, as well as the professionals who care for grieving families. Share is a national organization with over 75 chapters in 29 states. Their services include bed-side companions, phone support, face-to-face support group meetings, resource packets, private online communities, memorial events, training for caregivers, and so much more. Click here to find a Share Chapter near you.

stillBirthday
Stillbirthday is a globally accessible resource of support, guidance and networking prior to, during and after birth in any trimester.  Their certified Birth & Bereavement Doulas® are searchable by location on their website.

There is also a current Instagram campaign that is bringing awareness to pregnancy and infant loss. Created by Dr. Jessica Zucker, after her own experience with pregnancy loss, I Had a Miscarriage (@ihadamiscarriage #ihadamiscarriage) is a platform for women to tell their stories about miscarriage and create rites and rituals around this experience.

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I hope these resources help you or someone you love.

All the best to you and yours,

Esha/Enriched Family

(Please note, the above post is provided for informational purposes only; the information is accurate and true to the best of my knowledge, but there may be omissions, errors or mistakes, and no guarantees are made.)