Martha Jefferson Healthwise: Infant Bereavement Support Group

Jan. 7, 2014

Talking about death can be difficult especially when it comes to losing your child. Now Martha Jefferson Hospital is starting a new infant bereavement support group to try to help parents heal from their loss.

When you find out that you're expecting, you're probably filled with a variety of emotions especially if you've been waiting for a long time to conceive.

For many couples, just weeks or a few months into their pregnancy, they find out that their baby didn't make it. That can leave them to suffer a loss they may never be able to come to terms with.

"In many cases for mothers or for couples, once they see that positive pregnancy test, they begin to hope and dream for that baby and are already planning the birthday and college education. In their heart, there really is a baby and often times that is a difficult loss for them," said Ann Kashatus, Support Group Leader.

That's why Martha Jefferson is starting a new infant bereavement support group led by retired nurse Ann Kashatus. It's for parents who have lost a child due to early pregnancy, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and a neonatal death which is when a baby dies in the first 28 days of life.

"I think the most important thing in my experience has been people's coming together sharing their story about their baby allowing other people to get to know their baby," said Kashatus.

Unlike other bereavement support groups, this one is just for parents.

Just knowing that they can talk with someone else who has been though it who has had similar experiences is helpful to people," said Kashatus.

Kashatus has seen just how beneficial a group like this can be and she recalls her experience with one woman who lost an infant.

"It totally devastated her to the point where she wasn't eating. She wasn't sleeping wasn't able to work. But being able to come and share her story really give an identity to her baby allowed other people in the community to know about her baby….just really healed her," said Kashatus.

That opportunity to heal is what they're hoping to give to many other parents who are currently grieving.

The infant bereavement support group will be held once a month. For more information call Martha Jefferson Health Connection at 434-654-7009.

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