Besides Halloween, what is the first thing you think of when you think of October? This month is very well-known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. What most people don't know is that October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. October 15th is Pregnant and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. 

In the year 2000, 1,003,000 out of the 6,401,000 pregnancies in the United States did not end in a live birth. That leaves 5,398,000 living babies. In 2003, the number of live births decreased to 4,093,000. 27,500 of those babies passed away before their first birthday.

That's a ridiculous amount of babies passing away after birth and an even more ridiculous amount of miscarriages. The loss of a child is a serious tragedy. If you have lost a baby, I am deeply sorry. And if anyone you know has lost a baby, please take the time this month to let them know that they're in your thoughts. Why aren't we better informed on the risks and the precautions available to help avoid infant loss?

When you're pregnant, basically all you're told about infant loss is that the chance of miscarriage greatly decreases after the first trimester. They tell you nothing about SIDS. Then after your baby passes away from SIDS, they send you a package in the mail informing you of risk factors and precautionary actions to take. Shouldn't that be something you're told before the fact?

SIDS stands for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It is the unexplained death of an otherwise healthy baby. SIDS usually occurs while a baby is sleeping. It appears that SIDS is when a baby ceases to breathe and arise from sleep.

Risk Factors Leading to SIDS

  • Boy babies are more likely than girls to die of SIDS.
  • African American, American Indian, and Eskimo babies.
  • Babies who have siblings or cousins who have died of SIDS.
  • Babies with mothers under the age of 20.
  • Babies with mothers who smoke or drink.
  • Babies with mothers who had inadequate prenatal care.
  • Abnormalities in the brain areas that control breathing or awaking from sleep.
  • Low birth weight.
  • Respiratory infections.
  • Sleeping in bed with parents.
  • Sleeping on a soft surface.
  • Sleeping on stomach.

Precautionary Actions

  • Sleeping with a fan in the room cuts SIDS loss by 72%. 
  • Place your baby on his back to sleep.
  • Use a firm mattress and avoid fluffy bedding, keep stuffed animals and pillows out of the crib.
  • Keep the baby at a good temperature. Do not overheat her and make sure if you use a blanket that it's not able to get over baby's head.
  • Have baby sleep in your room but not in your bed. Having the crib or a bassinet in your room is a great option.
  • Offering a pacifier for sleep time is also thought to be a good idea because if the baby is suckling, she is not in as deep of a sleep and should be able to wake herself easier if breathing is disrupted.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Make sure other people watching your children are well versed in the precautions.
  • Have lots of tummy time while baby is awake.

There are electronic monitors available but they are not proven to help. You can get an apnea monitor that monitors baby's breathing and heart rate so you can just glance at a screen and make sure both are fine instead of going to disturb your baby multiple times a night.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness needs to be more talked about. It needs to studied more. With more effort, it should be preventable. Until that day comes, let's do what we can and get the information out there to more expectant and new mothers.