Charity prepares for weekend run to support families coping with pregnancy, infant loss

Published On October 15, 2020 | By Jaeybee Martinito | News
Jaeybee Martinito

A run by Bridget’s Bunnies will take place this Saturday in Barrie in support of families who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss first-hand.

People taking part in the event can walk or run 1km or 5km – or entrants can also “Bunny Hop at your own pace and on your own time” anytime between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Oct. 17, the charity said on its Facebook page.

“Our mission is to ensure no family endures pregnancy loss alone,” said Theresa Morrison, founder of Bridget’s Bunnies.

Mat and Theresa Morrison started Bridget’s Bunnies in honour of their daughter Bridget Bell Morrison, who was stillborn just one day shy of her due date in November 2017.

Since then, Bridget’s Bunnies have provided comfort kits for families and put together a run in support of Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Obstetrics Bereavement Program in Barrie.

“We hope to keep expanding and keep reaching more families,” she said.

Morrison said 300 participants have already registered and the virtual run is something families are looking forward to this year.

“I feel like the families are hurting more because they’re more isolated,” Morrison said.

‘A real sense of isolation’

Support for mothers who have experienced miscarriages has increased during COVID-19, according to Pregnancy and Infant Loss Network.

“There is a real sense of isolation that accompanies pregnancy and infant loss,” said PAIL Network program manager, Michelle La Fontaine.

La Fontaine first came to the network for support after losing her twins in 2005. She said that talking to other bereaved families who experienced something similar helped.

“It was the first time that my husband and I felt like there might be hope for us to learn how to incorporate that loss into our lives,” La Fontaine said.

According to the data from UNICEF, stillbirth occurs every six seconds somewhere in the world.

There are 37,000 families who experience miscarriages every year in Ontario, but it remains a taboo topic.

Free awareness kits

Today, PAIL Network marks the official Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, to acknowledge and remember the loss of the babies.

The network will be giving free awareness kits to families and professionals. The kit includes lapel pins and decals that families could put up in their homes or vehicles.

“The focus for these kits is to reduce the stigma and increase the conversation,” said La Fontaine.

In December 2015, the Ontario government passed Bill 141, which gave the Ministry of Health a mandate to expand support for the families and education to the PAIL Network.

Jasmin Tecson, president of the Association of Ontario Midwives (AOM) said that “people grieve for a longer period of time because of the isolation that doesn’t allow them to connect and work through grief in the same way.”

Since the pandemic, midwives have limited the number of people in a family room to welcome or say goodbye to the baby. Health providers who work in end of life are finding a challenge in the way they also grieve.

“There is the potential for vicarious trauma. So that’s trauma that we don’t experience ourselves, but we might be a witness to or that we might inadvertently be participating in if there is something happening that we couldn’t help,” she said

Tecson, a midwife for 13 years, who has attended well over a thousand births, said that trauma can take a toll on a person.

“There’s the burden of being a care provider and beating yourself up like, you know, is there something that I could have done to make it different?” she said.

“What makes us be able to be effective care providers, is also what makes us vulnerable to vicarious grief on behalf of our clients,” Tecson said.

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