October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Many of us are participating in events or remembering our children in our own special ways. These events are heartwarming and an opportunity to support each other. This year, I’ve been wondering if they are more than that.
I used to think that government proclamations were a simple gesture to recognize the struggles faced by our society. I didn’t ever see a personal connection to it. It wasn’t that I didn’t know people with breast cancer, autism, or any other cause. I just didn’t stop to think about if I could or should do something about it.
When I look at the title National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, the word AWARENESS jumps out at me. What is awareness? What does it look like? Is it a simple acknowledgment? Is it a full-blown public media campaign? Is it something in between? Is it even necessary?
I’m not sure I completely understood the value of awareness until recently. But awareness is one of the most powerful tools we have. It can educate the public and health professionals; encourage financial support of research or care programs; inspire advocacy; break down stereotypes, myths, or taboos; honor the memory of loved and missed babies; and provide encouragement for families on a grief journey. Obviously, there is much that needs to be done and awareness could be a key to all of these things and more!
You may be thinking, “I don’t have the time/resources/talents/ability to make a difference.” I know I have thought this before. At times, the issues can be overwhelming. This is one of the most important reasons why we all need to work together and create that awareness. The issue is too big for any one person or even one organization to ‘fix’ alone. Working together, however, we can make a significant difference! Your contribution can be anything you want it to be. The important thing is that it comes from the heart and is done to create awareness for these babies and their families.
For example, you could:
- Attend a memorial walk/event such as the Let’s Not Be Still! Stillbirth Awareness Run/Walk or check this site for a great list of events in various areas.
- Call a friend who has experienced a pregnancy or infant loss to say you thought about them and their child today.
- Make a donation to your local hospital or a pregnancy/infant loss organization in memory of a child to support others enduring pregnancy and infant loss
- Join the Action for Stillbirth Awareness and Prevention (ASAP) Coalition.
- Tell a friend or family member about healthy pregnancy initiatives and safe sleep practices for infants.
- Contact your legislators to encourage support of the FMLA changes, the King Stillbirth bill, and the Pallone SIDS/SUID/Stillbirth bill.
- Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month.
The possibilities are endless, but the important part is that awareness can be big or small, loud or quiet, expensive or free, aimed toward society or an individual, organized or impromptu. Some of the most impressive works of the last two centuries have started in small ways or small locations. Don’t underestimate the ripple effect of your actions!
How will you be creating awareness this month? Feel free to share your ideas with us – or ask for help if needed. But make this month different by creating awareness in your own way. Together, all of these efforts will come together for true National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness.