We need more talks on pregnancy, infant loss

Sunday October 20 2019

Pregnancy and infant loss takes a physical and

Pregnancy and infant loss takes a physical and emotional toll on women who go through it 

By Editor

This month, all eyes are on the cancers that affect women. However, this month is also set aside to draw light to pregnancy and infant loss. While this issue is raised a little more frequently than it was in the past, there needs to be more conversations on pregnancy and infant loss.
The United Nations Children’s Fund’s most recent Maternal and Newborn Health Disparities report estimates that “81 babies will die each day before reaching their first month”. The report adds that “approximately 96 stillbirths occur every day”. These statistics do not capture the number of miscarriages, induced or otherwise. Our efforts to find statistics on miscarriages in Uganda had not yielded any substantial results by press time.
This goes to show that it is not an issue that is explored a lot in Uganda. It shows in how we treat these losses as a society. In most cases, only the immediate family affected get to mourn the loss, and even in these cases, the woman usually bears the effects alone.
Fortunately, awareness towards the gravity of this loss has increased over the years. Internationally, this awareness has been happening for years, with families sharing their stories of loss and lending support to families going through the same thing. This year, Uganda too has participated in this awareness.
On Tuesday, October 15, a Waves of Light service was held at St Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe to create awareness towards pregnancy and infant loss, and to also allow families who lost their little ones to remember them.
While this was the first of its kind in Uganda, Waves of Light events have been happening globally for 17 years now. We may be joining the conversation late in the game, but better now than never.
Pregnancy and infant loss takes a physical and emotional toll on women who go through it. We need to create more spaces for these women and their families to talk about their grief without being told to “move on”, “there will be more children” and all the other phrases people say in an effort to console.
Thankfully, there are already policies that recognise the need to grieve, for example, maternity leave for women who have suffered a miscarriage. With greater awareness, this is an issue we will be able to address openly, allowing families to grieve decently.