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Honoring National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

Honoring National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

October 15 is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. The occasion was ushered into existence in 2006 largely on the shoulders of Robyn Bear, who endured six first-trimester miscarriages between 1997 and 1999 before she was ultimately diagnosed with balanced translocation, a genetic abnormality that can affect fertility.

Established to educate, create awareness and show support for those who have suffered a miscarriage, stillbirth, or the loss of an infant, the day is observed nationwide with remembrance ceremonies and candle-lighting vigils. Everyone is to participate in the International Wave of Light by lighting a candle at 7:00 p.m. local time to honor and remember the babies who have been lost.

As many as 20 percent of confirmed pregnancies are lost, though the actual rate is likely higher because most miscarriages occur in the first trimester before many women realize they’re pregnant. The loss of a pregnancy or child can not only have psychological effects but can also stigmatize and isolate parents.

In an effort to ensure that every parent receives the support they need during their darkest hour, Mary Washington Healthcare established a bereavement and palliative care program in 2005, led by a certified perinatal loss care nurse. Families can self-refer to the program, or be referred by their obstetrician.

We also provide perinatal bereavement support services, which include:

  • Onsite bereavement support and referrals
  • A dedicated perinatal-loss support nurse, who can answer many of your questions
  • Healing Through Support is a small and supportive group where attendees are welcome to be open with their feelings in a safe and respected environment
  • A free library of books on the subject

Healing Through Support is held on the third Thursday evening of each month at the John F. Fick III Conference Center. Visit our events calendar to learn more about the group and what to expect.

These services are available to everyone in the community, regardless of the gestational stage of the loss and whether the loss occurred at another place or time. They’re also available to bereaved grandparents.

Losing a pregnancy or a child triggers a cascade of painful thoughts and emotions. It’s natural to think in those initial moments that no one else could possibly understand that pain. But the key to surviving such a tragedy and beginning to heal is seeking support, confiding in a family member, a close friend, or a trained professional.

If you’ve miscarried, had a stillbirth, or lost a child, know that you are not alone.

To learn more about our support services, contact our perinatal bereavement coordinator, Tammy Ruiz, RN BSN, CPLC, at 540.741.3268 or