There are a variety of ways to define perinatal loss and specific types of perinatal loss, but we greatly emphasize that we at H.E.A.R.T.strings consider a loss to be a loss regardless of type of loss, gestational age of the pregnancy, etc. We do not use medical definitions to dictate the services that we offer. Below you will find information about specific types of loss, but we encourage you to use whatever terminology feels most comfortable to you. Here are some tips we've put together:
You may find that none of the clinical terms feel "right" or comforting to you. Some parents use words or phrases that are more sensitive or reassuring to them or that they feel better describes what happened to their baby. We have found that giving a simple, direct, and honest explanation is often best for everyone. It's perfectly okay to say, "Our baby died."
The intensity of grief is usually associated with the connection and attachment to the pregnancy and the baby, not the length of the pregnancy or the type of loss. Parents can be just as devastated if the loss occurred at 5 weeks gestation as if it had occured at 25 weeks gestation, full-term, or 6 days after delivery.
Try not to compare your grief to that of another person. There is no such thing as a "better" kind of loss. They are all heartbreaking and painful.
You have a right to grieve. No matter how far along you are or how young or old your baby was. You also have the right to grieve in your own way and in your own time.
For people who offer support and care to parents and families who have experienced a loss: We recommend you refrain from making assumptions regarding what parents will or won't do or feel. Don't base your words, actions, or compassion based on the length of the pregnancy, type of loss, history of previous losses, the presence of other children, religious or cultural beliefs. Simply offer unconditional kindness and respect, refrain from suggesting that the parents "forget and move on," and be understanding that grief has no timeline or schedule. Every person grieves in his/her own way in his/her own time.
In ALL cases, remember the baby. Call him/her by name (if named). Remember the baby's birthday every year (or the anniversary of his/her death), Mother's Day and Father's Day, and on holidays. Remember this baby even if the parents go on to have other children.
Details about Specific Types of Losses
The loss of a pregnancy/baby at less than 20 weeks gestation.
Often, the grief following a miscarriage is minimized because people don’t understand that grief is not associated with the length of a pregnancy but with the attachment and bonding with the pregnancy and the baby.
Many times, no definite cause can be determined.
The medical terms spontaneous abortion, missed abortion, inevitable abortion are often used by healthcare providers but usually do not provide comfort to parents.
Stillbirth or IUFD (intrauterine fetal death) or SADS (Sudden Antenatal Death Syndrome):
The death of a baby before delivery (at 20 weeks gestation or greater)
Many parents who have delivered a baby at less than 20 weeks gestation will refer to their babies as being stillborn, not miscarried.
This type of loss claims over 10 times as many babies' every year as does SIDS.
An estimated 26,000 stillbirths occur annually in the USA.
Despite advances in so many areas of obstetrics, the incidence of stillbirths in the USA has not decreased by much for many decades.
Two-thirds of stillborn babies, including many that undergo an autopsy or genetic testing, are diagnosed as having died for "undetermined or unknown" reasons.
Stillbirths are as random as raindrops, occurring for no apparent cause even in the case of mothers who lead a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy.
Data collection on stillbirth is often inconsistent from state to state; however, it believed that 1 in 3 stillbirths are caused by cord accidents, infections, genetic anomalies, maternal diabetes, and placental failures of varying kinds.
SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) Newborn or Neonatal Death can be defined as a baby that dies within the first 28 days of life. However, we include any baby that has died in the NICU at any age, any loss of a baby that never goes home from the hospital, babies who were discharged from the hospital to hospice care, or babies who die after being home from the hospital for a short time.
Termination of Pregnancy (for medical reasons):
Parents have to make a decision about continuing or ending pregnancy.
This is a loving, self-less, and heartbreaking choice, one they feel is better for their babies and their families.
Regardless of the types of problems found, the decision to end a pregnancy is always a difficult one.
Although it is estimated that between 80 and 95 % of parents receiving a severe prenatal diagnosis choose to end the pregnancy, those who face this nightmare often feel alone. Many are unable to share the details of their pregnancy loss with their loved ones.
This decision can cause complicated and intense ethical, social, moral, religious, and spiritual crises.
Circumstances that May Complicate Perinatal Grief and Loss:
Recurrent Losses Two or more perinatal losses, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine
Loss of One or More Babies in a Set of Multiples:
There may or may not be surviving babies from the set
The babies may or may not die at the same time
The babies may or may not be delivered at the same time
The babies may or may not have all died from the same reasons
Any surviving babies are still considered part of a set of multiples. For example, if the parents were expecting twins and one baby dies, the surviving baby is still a twin.
Perinatal Loss at some point in the Surrogacy or Adoption Process We recognize that a parent or parents who carry a baby for another couple or who give a baby up for adoption will likely experience intense grief. However, the Northside Hospital Perinatal Loss support groups are not appropriate for the grief related to surrogacy or adoption when the pregnancy ends with the birth of a healthy baby. In cases where there is a perinatal loss of a baby that was involved in a surrogacy or adoption situation, our Perinatal Loss support groups are appropriate for the parents who were expecting to take their healthy newborn baby home.
If you prefer individual or couples counseling (rather than support groups), you can contact our office for a referral list of local therapists, consult your fertility doctor, or consult the agency that was handling your surrogacy or adoption process.
Infertility is a disease or condition of the reproductive system often diagnosed after a couple has one year of unprotected, well-timed intercourse or if the woman suffers from multiple miscarriages. (Resolve)
Infertility can be male or female related. In 35% of cases, it’s a female problem. In 35% of the cases, it’s a male problem. In 20% of cases, it’s a combined problem of the female and male, and in 10% of cases it’s unexplained. (Resolve)
Infertility affects approximately 10% of the population. (Resolve)
Many times, people who are going through fertility treatments will mourn each month that a pregnancy is not achieved.