Every 21 minutes an American family experiences the heartbreak of stillbirth. As babymed notes, that’s about one in 150 births which is around 20,000 babies per year.
“In a matter of hours I went from ecstatically happy, awaiting the arrival of a new baby I had nurtured for months to an overwhelming sense of emptiness.”
When a baby dies in utero at 20 weeks of pregnancy or later, it’s called a stillbirth. When a pregnancy is lost before 20 weeks, it’s called a miscarriage. About 1 in 160 pregnancies ends in stillbirth in the United States. Most stillbirths happen before labor begins, but a small number occur during labor and delivery.
“After she was born we were with her for many hours and held her close and bathed her.”
Because stillbirths often occur during completely normal pregnancies, parents are shocked and left wondering why their babies died. That’s why it’s important to be aware of what could happen. There is no need to dwell on it, just be aware of the possibilities and know that sometimes things happen that are beyond your control. Babble’s Devan McGuinness has experienced the loss of 12 miscarriage and writes, “Even after 3 healthy, full-term children, we are actively aware of how quickly that can change, even in what all doctors consider a “totally normal and healthy pregnancy.”
“You second guess everything you did, everything you didn’t do.”
Not only is your baby gone, but the lack of answers can make the helplessness and grief unbearable. Most moms feel intense guilt as well. It’s completely natural to think of everything you could have done differently even though it likely wouldn’t have made a difference.
“You’re wondering if you should have pushed harder when you felt lousy at week 37 to be delivered sooner, or anything you should have done better or different or why didn’t I know?”
Parents need to know that most of the time stillbirth is not anyone’s fault. As Elizabeth Czukas writes on About.com, “Getting answers may be the best way to relieve your guilt, so talk to your doctor about all your options for discovering the cause of your stillbirth. The answers won’t bring your baby back, but they may help you.” It’s also helpful to talk about your baby. Even if it makes others uncomfortable. That baby is your child and will be forever.
“We get asked all the time how many children do you have. I’m not afraid to mention him. It just makes people SO uncomfortable.”
If you know someone who has experienced stillbirth or a miscarriage you can help by talking about their child too.
“I even feel like a bad luck charm around other moms because they don’t want to hear about my negative outcome, they really often want to change the subject if I mention I’ve had a baby that’s died.”
A mother loves to talk about her babies…
“I think the worst thing I could’ve done or that has happened to him is that we don’t talk about him or we don’t remember him.”
Whether they’re on this Earth or not.
“Still to this day I love to tell people he is my son. I’m very happy to be his mom and I just don’t get enough chances to talk about him. Because that is how we honor him. His life was a good thing in this world. His life was a good thing.”
“If it happens and it’s as common as everyone says it is, why don’t they tell you about it?”
Every 21 minutes. Thes quotes from this article can be found in a video called “Born In Silence” that you can find here.
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