The loss of an infant is devastating. National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day honour those lives lost to miscarriage, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, stillbirth, the death of a newborn, and more. National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is a day to shatter the culture of silence surrounding infant and pregnancy loss. People defy the social and cultural taboos about speaking about the loss of their young ones by sharing their personal experiences and remembering their loss. This international day is observed in the United States, Canada, and Australia. On October 15, take the opportunity to reflect, honour, and come together over pregnancy and infant loss. If you have a loved one who has experienced this loss, take the time to give them the love and support needed to process and recover.
History of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day
The commemoration of and remembrance of infant and pregnancy loss was first observed in the United States. In 1988, the U.S. Congress chose the month of October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. It petitioned then-president Ronald Reagan to proclaim the observance of the month. 13 years later, three miscarriage awareness activists — Robyn Bear, Lisa Brown, and Tammy Novak — launched a petition campaign to get the U.S. government to declare October 15 an official holiday of remembrance of pregnancy loss and infant death. On September 28, 2006, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Concurrent Resolution 222, which endorsed the ideals of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
On October 15, 2002, the United Kingdom witnessed the first Baby Loss Awareness Day after inspiration from the U.S.’s Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Since 2003, the U.K. has also observed Baby Loss Awareness week from October 9 to the final day on October 15.
In Canada, the observance of the day emerged province by province. First, in 2005, the New Brunswick Department of Health and Wellness pushed for the day’s observation and called for residents within the area to raise awareness for and support parents who were undergoing silent grief, having lost children due to miscarriages or infant death. Three years later, Manitoba recognized the holiday, followed by Ontario and Nova Scotia.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day became an official national holiday in Australia after the Australian Parliament passed a favourable motion on February 17, 2021. This was largely due to the efforts of Nicole Ballinger, who worked with Members of Parliament Joanna Gash and Shelley Hancock in May 2008 to create an official observation day for pregnancy and infant loss, and John and Kate De’Laney, who campaigned for the recognition of the day in Western Australia from 2014 till its official recognition in 2021.
Between 17–22 % of pregnancies result in miscarriage. Several public figures have publicly shared their experiences with pregnancy loss and infant death, including Mark Zuckerberg, Michelle Obama, and Whitney Houston.
How to observe National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day
- Participate in a “Walk To Remember” or wear a pink and blue ribbon
- Various nonprofits host walks to honour and remembers pregnancy loss and infant death. Proceeds are typically donated to advocacy and awareness groups. Also, pink and blue are the official colours of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Simply attaching a pink and blue ribbon to your outfit for the day is a great way of showing support for grieving families and kick-starting a conversation about the infant mortality rate with people around you.
- Remember your baby or reach out to a loved one who has lost a little one
- Take time to honour your baby by planting a memorial tree, journaling, or picking out memorial jewellery. These activities can help as you go through the healing process. This day reminds your loved ones that they are not alone. If you have family or friends who have experienced the grief of pregnancy loss and infant death, reach out to them and offer them support in any way you can. However, try to be respectful, sensitive, and unobtrusive in your approach to supporting them.
- Learn more about pregnancy and infant loss and share your experience with pregnancy or infant loss
- Every year, about 90,000 infants die before the age of one, and at least 10% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. Knowing facts like these can help you understand the scope of this loss. And sharing your experience is not just important for dealing with grief; it also reminds others like you that they are not alone. If you have tips that can help other families move through their grief and deal with it better, there is no better day to share them than this day.
5 Public Figures Who Have Spoken Up About Their Infant Losses
- Beyonce’s HBO special “Life Is But A Dream” honours the baby lost in her miscarriage and discussed the difficulty of grieving and healing during this time.
- Gabrielle Union
- Gabrielle Union opened up about her struggle with miscarriages, revealing that she has had eight or nine and was in an almost-constant cycle of IVF for years trying to get pregnant.
- Lily Allen
- The popular singer, Lily Allen, disclosed that she had a stillbirth when she was six months into her pregnancy in 2010 — when asked if she thought she had been able to get over the tragic loss, she responded that she didn’t think she ever would.
- Meghan Markle
- In November 2020, the Duchess of Sussex announced that she had had a miscarriage in July of the same year — in an Op-Ed by “The New York Times,” she said the experience pushed her to encourage others to check in on their loved ones, especially during a period when so many people had been having a difficult time.
- Michelle Obama
In her memoir, “Becoming,” former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama revealed that she had suffered a miscarriage before conceiving her two girls — in an interview with “Good Morning America,” she bemoaned the stigma around baby loss and said, “I felt lost and alone…Because I didn’t know how common miscarriages are. Because we don’t talk about it. We sit in our pain, thinking that somehow we are broken.”
Why national pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day is important
- It allows parents to grieve in different ways
- Many parents feel they have to suffer silently. This day provides parents with the space to come together and grieve openly about their loss — or to look for support from those they may not normally turn to. It breaks the culture of silence around grief. Grief is an intense and important emotion that cannot be shut out. Today, we remind people that it is okay to feel negative emotions after losing a little loved one.
- It provides a caring touch
- Talking about pregnancy and infant loss is very emotional, so many choose not to say anything. National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day help those who have experienced loss to express their feelings about it while teaching others how to be supportive. Some families even remember their lost young ones by holding an event in their honour. National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day include a local candlelight vigil at 7 P.M. It is observed in the U.S., Europe, and Africa.
- It raises awareness about an important issue
- About one in four individuals and families will have their lives irrevocably altered by the death of their children during pregnancy, birth, and infancy. With over 17% of pregnancies ending in miscarriages, National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day points out the health gaps in our systems and raises awareness about the unfortunate infant mortality rate.