Philly Rising: Fighting stigma and finding light for families who experience infant death

The three-pronged mission includes grief support, health care, and fighting stigma surrounding the issue
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month Photo credit Kristen Samuelson, Three Little Birds Perinatal

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. The loss of a pregnancy or an infant is a common struggle for families, but the conversations and support around it are less common.

Kristen Samuelson, founder of Three Little Birds Perinatal, is changing that.

"We support the immediate and long-term needs of pregnancy and infant loss for families who live within the 50-mile radius of the Philadelphia and South Jersey Metro region," Samuelson said.

She says their mission has three parts: supporting families who are grieving, health care providers, and fighting the stigma and taboo surrounding the issue.

"So a huge part of our mission is supporting those professionals so that we can do what we call giving families the best possible experience on the worst day of their life. The third part of our mission is we stand in solidarity with the thousands of other pregnancy and infant loss advocacy groups across the world, to shatter the stigma that is associated with these types of losses, bring it to the forefront, because it affects one in every four families," Samuelson explained. "We always talk about how it takes a village, when you know there’s a new life coming. And when a baby passes away and people don’t know what to do or say."

Samuelson says it’s a cause that’s personal for her. She has experienced this loss before with her husband.

"At our 2- week scan, where you really, for the first time, get to see her baby, we were told everything was perfect. And we were so excited. And less than eight weeks later, I went to a routine appointment, and was told, 'I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat.'

And it’s even hard to say it to you, even though I’ve said it a million, it’s still just so hard to say and comprehend, because it seems so impossible. But it is [possible] for thousands and thousands of families."

Through Three Little Birds they have helped hundreds of mothers of "angel babies" deal with this tremendous loss. Infant remembrance portraiture is one of the many services and resources they provide to help bring comfort to grieving families..

"To be able to walk into a room where you know, you can’t change anything, like all these awful things have happened. But you can walk in and say, 'I can help you find the money for this, I can help you find mental health resources in your neighborhood that your insurance may or may not cover.'"

The hosts group support events in person and virtually through a Facebook group created for mothers to share their experiences. Samuelson says they’re not only bridging a health care gap, but they’re also lighting the path for healing with empathy, compassion and connection during a dark time.

"And that’s what the power of the connections that we’re making, we call this our nest, the nest of support you never knew you needed. And we always say reserves are remaining this way. But we’re here to help."

The group will host a Wave of Light event Friday in support of the national Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness day. Upcoming events are posted regularly to the Facebook page.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Kristen Samuelson, Three Little Birds Perinatal