Maternal Health Coalition to hold pregnancy loss and infant remembrance event – The Star Press

MUNCIE, Ind. Historically, Indiana has had one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country, and in 2019, there were 6.5 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, according to Centers for Disease Control data.

While infant mortality rates have been at a historic low, those 525 infant deaths are all too real for the families who experience them. With October beingNational Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, one local group is working to help heal anyone grieving the loss of an infant.

The Muncie Maternal Health Coalition will have a remembrance event 6-7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15, at First Presbyterian Church, 1400 W. Riverside Ave. The event will start off with resource tables and a memory stone activity, followed by a candle-lighting service and meditation time.

Corie Hess, founder of the coalition, said an event like this is important, because it lets women and families know they are not alone.

"It is so important to have a space for families to first and foremost honor and remember these losses. It is also important to connect people that have this shared experience together sothat they know they are not alone and can offer support to one another," Hess said. "One in four women will experience a pregnancy or infant loss. This is so common and yet as a society we don't talk about it as much as we should."

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Hess added that the event is open not only to grieving mothers, but to their spouses and support systems as well.

A psychologist andmother of two, Hess formed the coalition in September 2019. While studying at Ball State University and starting her own family, she became interested in maternal mental health.

Locally, she said, there seemed to be alack of mental health services availablefor parents, with new moms having to drive to Indianapolis for therapy.

Her goal with the Maternal Mental Health Coalition is to close those gaps, and since the organization was formed, several support groups have been created for mothers and families.

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The candle-lighting ceremony will be part of the the "International Wave of Light," which brings loved ones, friends and supporting organizationstogether tohonor families and the babies they've lost.

Hess said the original impetus for the eventwas President Ronald Reagans show of support for parents whosuffered from child loss. On Oct. 15, 1988, Reagan proclaimed the month of October Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.

"By doing so, Reagan gave a national platform for awareness and advocacy to the private grief that many parents share," Hess said. "He also gave us a formal space in which to honor the memories of our children."

The Wave of Light event commemorates the end of Baby Loss Awareness Week, which always ends on Oct. 15.

During Muncie's remembrance event, Hess said, small garden stones and decorating tools will be provided to families, and from there, they can take home the memory stone.

"So often families have few tangible objects to remember theirbabies," Hess said."We chose stones because weare in the early planning stages of developing a community remembrance garden to honor those babies lost to miscarriage and stillbirth."

The coalitionis currently looking for community members to be part of the planning committee for the garden. Those interested can contactmunciemamamasmh@gmail.com.

For more information, visitmunciemamasmh.orgorfacebook.com/MuncieMMHC.

Charlotte Stefanski is a reporterat The Star Press. Contact herat 765-283-5543, cstefanski@muncie.gannett.com or follow her on Twitter @CharStefanski.

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Maternal Health Coalition to hold pregnancy loss and infant remembrance event - The Star Press

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