"Our babies may have been born into silence, but we will make their voices heard. Enough with the excuses. Enough with the inaction. Enough with shrugging our shoulders and telling parents they can have another baby. Because they can't." --Samantha Banerjee, Bereaved Mother
WASHINGTON (PRWEB) October 19, 2022
On Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day, PUSH for Empowered Pregnancy (PUSH) banded together on the National Mall with 50+ organizations including bereaved parents, medical providers, and other advocates on a mission to end preventable stillbirth and improve pregnancy outcomes in the United States. This historic march is the first time ever that bereaved parents along with allies across the maternal/infant health space have gathered en masse to raise awareness of the tragedy of stillbirth. Demonstrators pushed empty strollers past the steps of Congress to illustrate the devastating toll of the silent epidemic of stillbirth in the United States and called on our leaders across medicine, government, and community for change. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 23,000 babies are born still every year in the United States (CDC Wonder Database). In addition to the main march in DC, thousands participated virtually and at Satellite Events across the U.S., including in Florida, Iowa, Colorado, Wisconsin, Virginia, New York, and more.
The CDC defines a stillbirth as the death of a baby in utero at or after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Many of these deaths are otherwise healthy babies and occur in normal, uneventful, low-risk pregnancies. The Big PUSH to End Preventable Stillbirth sought to alert the public that with better awareness and simple prevention strategies, a significant portion of these babies could be saved, especially those that occur in the 3rd trimester.
- WHO: PUSH for Empowered Pregnancy & a Coalition of over 50 nonprofit organizations in maternal/infant health and perinatal bereavement
- WHAT: A nationwide empty stroller march to raise awareness in honor of the 23,000 babies born still each year in the U.S. - the largest mass mobilization of bereaved families and stillbirth allies in history
- WHERE: Thousands of families and advocates are expected to gather in DC, plus thousands more at satellite marches and participating virtually across the country
- WHEN: Saturday, October 15th, 2022 - Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day
- WHY: Research shows that thousands of these deaths are preventable. The United States is shamefully far behind our international peers in stillbirth reduction. Families demand change in the name of their babies who have died
“Two days before my due date in 2013, I walked into the hospital in labor thinking I was finally bringing home my baby girl. Instead, I walked out with empty arms and a lifetime of excruciating what-ifs,” says PUSH Executive Director Samantha Banerjee. “Every day, 65 U.S. families face the same brutal end to their otherwise normal and healthy pregnancies, and most of us never even heard the word ‘stillbirth’ before it happened to us. Families like mine were robbed of the chance to save our babies because no one ever bothered to inform us that stillbirth is a risk. In Alana's name and that of the 23,000 other American children who die like her every year, we are demanding change.”
The event featured a powerful art installation consisting of 23,000 newborn hats, to represent the 23,000 babies who die every year. PUSH commissioned local DC artist, Ashley Jaye Williams, to craft the face of an anguished, screaming mother whose baby has been stillborn. The piece measures 30 feet high by 30 feet wide.
Dr. Joanne Stone, Chair of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science for Icahn Mount Sinai and the Mount Sinai Health System, Founder of the Mount Sinai – Rainbow Clinic, and President of The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) spoke at the event. “Stillbirth has been often regarded by the medical community as something that 'just happens' rather than the life-altering tragedy it is. It is time for us to recognize that many causes of stillbirth are preventable. We need to raise the awareness that families of color and those from other marginalized groups, as well as those with certain underlying medical conditions, are at least twice as likely to suffer a stillbirth. It’s time for prenatal care in this country to step up and make ending preventable stillbirth a top priority.”
Stillbirth is intimately correlated with other adverse pregnancy outcomes, particularly maternal mortality and morbidity. The Black Maternal Health community has rallied to stand in solidarity with this event and cause, and to advocate for stillbirth prevention strategies, many of which will likewise help close the racial disparity gap in birth outcomes.
“The human experiences of birthing and being born are sacred rites of passage. They are essential to our current and future existence on this planet,” says Shawnee Benton-Gibson, mother to Shamony Makeba Gibson who died at the age of 30 as a result of preventable postpartum complications in 2019. Shawnee along with Shamony’s partner, Omari Maynard, star in the Sundance Film Festival winning documentary Aftershock and spoke at The Big PUSH. “When black and brown women and birthing people and their babies cannot rely on the care and covering that every member of society is entitled to, then we are all teetering on the edge of extinction.”
- 23,000 babies are born still in the U.S. every year (1 in 170 pregnancies)
- 65 babies are lost to stillbirth every day in the U.S. - that’s three kindergarten classes every single day
- Stillbirth claims more children’s lives in the U.S. each year than prematurity, SIDS, car accidents, drowning, guns, fire, flu, poison, and listeria COMBINED (Graphic)
- Black mothers are twice as likely to suffer a stillbirth, compared to other races (CDC Wonder)
- Research shows that at least 25% of U.S. stillbirths are preventable; for term pregnancies (37+ weeks), that jumps to nearly half (47%) of stillbirths
- In the first 10 years of the Count the Kicks campaign in Iowa (2008-2018), the state’s stillbirth rate decreased nearly 32% while the rest of the country remained relatively stagnant
- Stillbirth is closely linked to maternal mortality and morbidity - mothers who deliver a stillborn baby are almost five times as likely to experience severe maternal complications
- The U.S. ranks 48th out of 49 developed nations in annual rate of reduction (ARR) of stillbirth, and 183rd out of 195 countries worldwide (UNICEF). This is unacceptable.
PUSH for Empowered Pregnancy, Healthy Birth Day, Aaliyah in Action, MomsRising, March for Moms, National Birth Equity Collaborative (NBEC), Measure the Placenta, International Stillbirth Alliance, Pregnancy After Loss Support, ARIAH Foundation, and many other allies are joined together in the name of all babies born still to demand change. They are asking that stillbirth be explicitly included in the Title V Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Block Grant to encourage states to make stillbirth prevention a priority by educating families, and that Congress pass the bipartisan Stillbirth Health Improvement and Education (SHINE ) for Autumn Act, (S.3972/H.R.5487) led by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). This critical piece of legislation will make vital steps to invest in research and data collection required to better understand stillbirth. The Coalition further implores our nation's medical leaders including the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology (ACOG) to form a Stillbirth Prevention Working Group to implement internationally proven stillbirth prevention protocols as part of standard prenatal care in the U.S. Furthermore, closing the disparity gap in birth outcomes between White and BIPOC families should be made an explicit objective of this effort.
The Big PUSH to End Preventable Stillbirth is generously supported by sponsors including Earth Mama Organics, BLVR, Nurses Choice, Mommy Labor Nurse, AWHONN, and several medical professionals and small businesses in communities across the United States.
---About PUSH for Empowered Pregnancy---
We're on a mission to end preventable stillbirth, and we're not taking no for an answer.
65 babies are dying in the second half of pregnancy every single day in the U.S. - that’s 23,000 each year, most of them otherwise healthy, and all of them deeply loved. Many of these babies were our babies, and many of them could have been saved.
PUSH for Empowered Pregnancy exists for one reason, and one reason alone: to cut the US stillbirth rate by 20% by the end of 2030, in half by 2050, and in time, eradicate all preventable stillbirths. We are a diverse coalition of bereaved parents from around the country, and we are working closely with trailblazing medical researchers, courageous doctors, and other hardworking allies to drive down the incidence of stillbirth in the United States over the next decade by any means necessary.
Through partnerships with health providers and aggressive awareness campaigns, we will empower every expectant family with the equitable, evidenced-based medical care and education they need to advocate for a healthy pregnancy, giving parents and babies the best possible chance to make it home safely together.
No family should have to endure what we have endured. We are saying ENOUGH.
#UnitedWePush For Families, For Babies. For Change.
Learn more at http://www.pushpregnancy.org // Details, photos & livestream recording of this event at http://www.thebigpushmarch.org // Follow @pushpregnancy on all social media platforms