October is SIDS, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. This month, we remember all of the babies whose parents said good-bye instead of hello.
The nine months before a baby is born are an exciting time for expectant parents. Setting up the nursery, choosing names, and buying cute little pink or blue clothes are all part of the excitement.
Then comes the day when the parents get to hear the baby’s heartbeat for the very first time. For some parents, the heartbeat is never heard because the baby died in utero.
The heartbreak parents feel is compounded by the details of telling family and friends of their loss, returning baby clothes and taking down nursery furniture.
The sadness can be overwhelming for the parents of babies who are never born, tiny victims of miscarriage. Nobody knows exactly what causes miscarriage.
Mothers often blame themselves; however, miscarriage is often due to the fertilized egg not developing normally rather than something the mother did or didn’t do.
For other parents, the exciting moment of birth arrives only to be shattered when the baby is stillborn or dies shortly after birth.
Stillbirth is defined as the death of an unborn baby who has been in the womb for more than 20 weeks. Over 25,000 babies are lost to stillbirth each year. More than half of all stillbirths occur in the third trimester of seemingly healthy pregnancies.
In other homes, the baby has come home and become a part of the family until the day a parent goes into the baby’s silent bedroom to find that the baby has died, a victim of sudden infant death syndrome.
Sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, is defined as the unexplained death of a child under one year of age. Even after examining the scene of the infant’s death and autopsy, there is no explanation of the cause.
The incidence of SIDS has decreased significantly since the 1980s. Parents are now taught to put babies to sleep on their backs in a bed with a firm mattress and no blankets or covers.
For more suggestions to lower the risk of SIDS, visit the Mayo Clinic website or the American SIDS Institute website at the link below.
Parents can visit this website to add the names of their children who died from SIDS to the memorial page.
First Candle is a national charitable organization founded to help promote safe pregnancy and decrease the incidence of infant mortality and stillbirth.
You can help by donating to First Candle, by hosting a fundraising event or by volunteering with the organization. Read more at the company website.
Reach out this month to someone who has suffered the pain of losing a child to miscarriage, stillbirth or SIDS. For parents, the pain may lessen over time but it’s never really gone.
Rest in peace, little lost babies. You will always hold a place in our hearts, even as our arms feel the emptiness that remains.