By Ryann Kuchle, Empath Health Social Worker
A tragic loss
Many people we know have had a baby die due to a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and/or stillbirth. This population is much larger than realized often because the death of an unborn child is rarely spoken of and can be an extremely isolating event.
I am one of this population. I had a miscarriage in November 2016. At that time, I felt very alone and that my baby did not matter because it was so early on in the pregnancy.
As my husband and I began to talk more about our loss with others, I realized how prevalent a miscarriage is; about one in four women will experience a miscarriage in their lives. When I started to share my story I was comforted by many women in my life who expressed that they also had that experience.
While the loss of the dreams and future for our unborn child was painful, I decided that I did not want other women to feel the loneliness that I had. I was unsure how to go about this until fortunately going to work for Empath Health.
Counseling and support
I am the pediatric social worker for our Empath Health children’s community programs and the perinatal loss counselor for our community counseling program. Our amazing perinatal loss doula volunteers are available to meet with families experiencing a fetal death in our local hospitals. Prior to the births, they can help families create a birth plan and discuss challenges to prepare them for giving birth to a baby who may be born still.
Our perinatal loss program receives referrals through Healthy Start Coalition of Pinellas, local hospitals, our doula volunteers and self-referrals. Our program has begun to grow more than I could have imagined thanks to the support of grant funding.
In October 2016 we received a Healthy Start grant, which pays for counseling sessions for women and their families who have experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth, ectopic pregnancy or SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) death and for those who may experience the death of their unborn child due to a known medical complication. We have been able to provide counseling support to many women and their families and Healthy Start has renewed our grant through June 2018.
There is another area of growth in which I hope to further help women who have experienced or will experience a miscarriage. In August 2017, we received an Empath Health Women’s Giving Network grant, which supports our program that helps women who miscarry at home. We will use this funding to provide miscarriage kits to local OBGYNs, so families may preserve the remains of their babies in a respectful way. We also plan to partner with a local funeral home, which will provide burial services to honor the babies who have died, as well as make connections with local OBGYNs to share that we are here to provide counseling and support services. This work promises to bring compassionate change and support to families who are feeling lost.
It has been a blessing to see our program grow and to be a part of this change. I hope we can continue our growth to provide more support to our community and honor the lives of those we will never have the opportunity to meet.
We are here for you
If you are facing a miscarriage or other early loss of a baby, you are not alone. Please call us to learn more about our services and get support at (727) 523-3451.