Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What October means to me

In 1988 President Reagan declared October "pregnancy and infant loss awareness month", stating "When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn't a word to describe them. This month recognizes the loss so many parents experience across the United States and around the world."

On Sept. 28, 2006 the United States House of Representatives declared October 15th national "pregnancy and infant loss awareness day", stating "Mr. Speaker, it is an enormous tragedy to lose the life of a child, and it is a sad statistic that each year approximately 1 million pregnancies in the United States end in miscarriage, stillbirth, or the death of a newborn baby.As this resolution states, even the shortest of lives are of great value and the grief of the parents who lose their children cannot be underestimated. The Governors of all 50 States have joined together in designating October 15, 2006, as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day"

Medicalnewstoday.com states that more than 4 million babies across the globe die each year. In the U.S., annually, another 800,000 pregnancies end in miscarriage, states a transcript of Sound Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine's radio broadcast.

With such a widespread problem, infant and pregnancy loss awareness should be a top priority for our society and the medical community.

The following is a list of suggestions you can use today to increase sensitivity and make a difference in one hurting parent's life this month and beyond:

Tips for pregnant women
· Familiarize yourself with the KICK COUNT program: (Baby Kick Alliance) (Stillbirth Alliance)
· Learn the signs & symptoms of preterm labor: (March of Dimes)
· Be careful with what you eat. There are risks of Listeriosis, Gestational Diabetes among many other things – most of which can be prevented in a lot of cases . Eat healthfully, heat your deli meat to steaming, stay away from anything unpasteurized and don't eat hot dogs (or Subway!). **This tip is extra important to us, as Grace & Olivia died from Listeriosis (which was contracted from some sort of diary). Food can be a scary thing (especially with all the recent E. Coli findings!).

10 tips for families and friends of the bereaved parents
· Allow the bereaved parent to grieve in their own way and don't forget that dads hurt, too.
· Never advise a parent to "get over it," "move on," or "don't cry."
· Never "empathize" by sharing a story about your dead pet, grandmother or Uncle Lester. It just isn't the same.
· Never say "If there is anything you need, call me." He or she won't be fully functional and will have zero energy to make or remember phone calls.
· Offer your help by making strong, specific suggestions like: Allow me to help with your laundry, cooking, planning of the memorial service, informing others of the family's loss, paying the bills, providing or arranging childcare for surviving children, etc.
· Use kind phrases like: "I'm so sorry," "I can't imagine your pain," "my heart breaks for you," "I don't understand how you feel, but I'm willing to listen," "I don't know what to say," "I love you." For the most part, sit quietly and listen.
· Know the signs and symptoms of suicide and depression; don't hesitate to demand professional help.
· Write down and acknowledge the baby's name, birth and death dates. To forget is heartbreaking.
· Expect your loved one to relapse during the weeks leading up to the expected delivery date, one year anniversary and first birth date. Be supportive and know this relapse is normal now and in years to come.
· Get informed about the grief process! Buy or borrow a book about infant and pregnancy loss.

Tips for medical professionals
· "It," "fetus," "fetal demise," "GBS baby," "SIDS case," "aborted fetus" and other medical jargon are unacceptable terminology in the parent's presence. Instead use the baby's name or terms like "baby boy," "baby," "little one" or similar.
· Patient care involves the physical and mental. Don't get so busy tending to the physical that you avoid taking the time to just be there and listen.
· Talk to the patient about what they can expect to see, feel and hear before, during and after a miscarriage or stillbirth delivery. Describe how the baby will look and what the parent can expect from labor pain and the procedure for delivery.
· Never just hand a stillborn baby to his mother without cleaning and swaddling the baby in a blanket. Offer to take pictures. The parents will value these pictures later.
· Don't take the baby away until the parents give permission. This is the last opportunity to parent their child.
· At follow-up visits, acknowledge their loss and let them know you have not forgotten.
· As a general practice physician, never try to give advice outside your area of expertise. It is insulting to your patient.
· At routine appointments, never become so detached that you rattle off questions about the patient's loss as if it were an everyday occurrence.
· It's okay to cry with or for your patient.

Although thousands of grief support resources are available now more than ever before, don't underestimate the impact one person can make. Get educated about infant and pregnancy loss, show compassion and reach out to the hurting.

Making a difference starts with you and me.

Excerpts from Sharee Moore

"A mother hold her children's hand for a short while, but she holds their hearts forever."

1 comment:

  1. HANNAH10:01 AM