As sad and heartbreaking as miscarriages are, they are more common than many may realize. It’s a fact that Washington Family wants to focus on this month as we recognize World Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
Pregnancy loss happens “about 20 percent of the time,” says Tina Larson, a registered nurse at the University of Maryland Medical Center who runs the hospital’s pregnancy education program, Stork’s Nest.
Many women do not talk about their experiences with miscarriage in part because it’s painful, but also because others are not comfortable with the topic. Often friends and loved ones don’t really know what to say to someone who has had a miscarriage.
Larson suggests giving parents who have suffered a miscarriage or pregnancy loss the time to grieve however they wish. “It is a loss of a family member and should be treated as so, even if you have not had the opportunity to meet him or her,” she says. “People can also offer support by offering meals and helping with daily chores such as doing dishes, shopping or taking care of other children.”
Larson herself has experienced miscarriage and says she kept it a secret for a while because it was hard to cope with the idea that her “very wanted pregnancy was over.”
“My husband and I did not know what to say to each other,” she says. “Now, we remember our baby and know that it was nothing we did to cause the miscarriage. We are open with our experience in hopes that it helps others going through the same thing to have someone to speak to, if and when they are ready.”
At UMMC, Larson assists pregnant mothers every day through Stork’s Nest, a program designed to prepare parents for pregnancy, birth and caring for an infant and that offers a range of classes, including nutrition and safe sleeping for infants.
The program is a partnership among UMMC, March of Dimes Maryland Greater Washington D.C. Chapter and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Alpha Zeta Chapter. It started in 2000 and has had more than 3,700 registered participants. Its goals are “to reduce premature births, low birth-weight babies and infant mortality and to increase breastfeeding rates,” Larson says.
It’s primarily for women who are planning on giving birth at UMMC and are receiving prenatal care there. Participants also earn points when they attend the free classes. They then can use the points to shop for new baby-care items at the Stork’s Nest Boutique.
“By having this program, it promotes education, support and a way for women, no matter their economic status, to gather some basic baby items that will make their time with their infant a bit easier,” Larson says.