COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — You won’t see it on your calendar, but September 19 is National Stillbirth Prevention Day.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 21,000 babies are stillborn in the United States every year. To bring attention to that alarming statistic, federal lawmakers introduced a bipartisan resolution, recognizing September 19 as National Stillbirth Prevention Day, seeking to raise awareness and lower the stillbirth rate. But affected families say more needs to be done to prevent this kind of loss.
Debbie Haine Vijayvergiya’s daughter, Autumn, was stillborn in 2011. That loss drove Vijayvergiya to create legislation — The Stillbirth Health Improvement and Education (SHINE) for Autumn Act — a bill to improve research and data collection in order to better understand and prevent stillbirths in the U.S.
It’s one of two bills currently under consideration in congress, and one of the reasons why other moms of children born silently, are pushing for passage. Moms like Heather Johnston Welliver. Her daughter, Lydie, was born still in 2014.
“She would be turning 9 this fall,” said Johnston Welliver. “But in 2014, at the end of a perfectly healthy, low risk pregnancy, where we were just very excited to bring her home soon… We had our nursery all set up… She was suddenly stillborn. And at the time of her birth, we discovered that it was from an umbilical cord accident. And because I was low risk, I had no preventative care that would have prevented her stillbirth, even though her stillbirth could have been prevented, and it had also never been suggested to me to be monitoring her movement.”
That’s why, on National Stillbirth Prevention Day, Welliver and a coalition of more than 50 stillbirth prevention advocates representing 12 organizations went to Washington, D.C.
“We’re meeting with legislators and telling our stories and telling them why it’s important that these bills are passed,” said Johnston Welliver. “Until I say, like, ‘Look at my perfect little baby, and she didn’t need to die, and she did,’ and we put the names and the faces behind the stories… That’s what really gives meaning.”
Organizations like Healthy Birth Day, Inc. are also working to increase public awareness about stillbirth. Communications Manager Kimberly Isburg said stories like Johnston Welliver’s are an important way to begin to make change.
Johnston Welliver is also spreading the word about stillbirth, prevention methods and education, through Lydie’s Loop: Steps Against Stillbirth — an annual event for families to celebrate the lives of babies gone too soon.
This year’s event takes place Saturday, September 23, in Columbus.