During September and October, several organizations have teamed up to raise awareness in Hampton Roads of pregnancy and infant loss.
September was National Infant Mortality Awareness month and October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. Although there is tremendous grief and sadness attached to the unexpected loss of new life, health care providers, advocacy groups and community educators feel it is important to shine a light on this unfortunate reality in an effort to both support those who have experienced fetal/infant loss and also help to educate folks on ways to prevent future loss.
EVMS’s Consortium for Infant Child Health, Healthy Start/Loving Steps and Minus 9 to 5 are leading the charge in bringing together resident organizations such as Aetna, Anthem Health Keepers Plus, Kennedy’s Angel Gowns and Sentara Norfolk General to provide a platform for remembrance, awareness and education.
On Sept. 30, community volunteers convened on the grass quad in front of Sentara Norfolk General to plant 649 blue and pink pinwheels in the shape of the awareness ribbon. Representing the number of infants who died in our Hampton Roads region between 2015 and 2019, the pinwheels will be on display throughout October.
Accompanying the pinwheels are awareness signs that include a QR code to access additional information and resources related to pregnancy and infant loss.
These informational awareness signs also are exhibited with an awareness ribbon constructed with pink and blue paper hearts in two locations within Sentara Norfolk General; one will be displayed in the Maternity Family Center and the other will be hanging on the windows in the Brickhouse Conference breezeway.
Megan Buchholz, Director of the SNG Family Maternity Center; Kim Breo, Lactation Consultant; and Deb Dougherty, Bereavement Coordinator for the center, are significant partners in this awareness campaign. When ask to share their space for the ribbon installation, Ms. Buchholz didn’t hesitate.
“Pregnancy and infant loss have historically been topics no one wants to discuss. Our families and communities need support and education around these difficult topics. I’m grateful for the partnership we have with EVMS to bring awareness and resources to our community,” she says.
Nationally, 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss. Locally, one in 100 babies don’t make it to their first birthday. In an effort to provide resources and prevention education, the EVMS Healthy Start/Loving Steps program aims to distribute 100 resource gift bags throughout the month of October to expecting mothers during their perinatal visits at EVMS Office of Maternal Fetal Medicine.
To learn more about infant and pregnancy loss prevention and support, visit the Minus 9 to 5 website.