Infant Loss Awareness Month: Eyewitness News’ Shelley Kirk speaks with prenatal nurse specialist

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(WEHT)- October is Infant Loss Awareness Month, a time to promote remembrance and support for the families who have lost children during pregnancy, birth, and in infancy. Eyewitness News’ Shelley Kirk spoke with Miranda Wahnsiedler, a prenatal nurse specialist at Ascension St. Vincent in Evansville.


Shelley Kirk: October is Infant Loss Awareness Month. It’s a time to promote remembrance and support of the families whose lives are forever changed by the death of their children during pregnancy, birth, and in infancy.

It’s estimated that one in four families go through this. Joining me now to shed more light on this is Miranda Wahnsiedler. She is a prenatal nurse specialist at Ascension St. Vincent in Evansville, Miranda, thank you so much for taking some time today to shed some light on this. We appreciate it.

This is a topic led not discussed a lot, it is difficult to talk about. But we need to talk about itm is there a leading cause to infant death?

Miranda Wahnsiedler: There are definitely some high contributors that you see, kind of shifting between first, second, and third place throughout different areas. And so some of the main causes that we see could be attributed to prenatal risks.

So those high-risk pregnancies that we manage, we also have congenital anomalies that get managed as well. Sometimes during a pregnancy, sometimes after the delivery. And then of course, there’s a sudden infant, unexpected deaths that include SIDS, sleep or deleted death, and things like that, that are not expected in which the child dies before their first birthday.

Shelley Kirk: Yeah. Now, some parents have a hard time wondering if there’s something that they could have done to keep this from happening. But in some cases, there really is nothing they could have done, correct?

Miranda Wahnsielder: Absolutely. There’s definitely times where moms do all the right things, they take care of themselves during their pregnancy, they get all the prenatal care that they need, they get their newborn taken to their pediatrician appropriately. And sometimes, there are cases where babies do have deaths in which are completely unexpected, and we can’t find an identifiable cause.

And there is a community group that we get together and we review those deaths and we don’t find anything that we could attribute that either comes from medical examination or just
investigating the kind of circumstances of their care. And there’s nothing that the family members could do. They did everything right. But it’s still very heartbreaking outcome.

Shelley Kirk: But one thing we do know, though, is that prenatal care and a healthy lifestyle is critical to a healthy baby, talk about that.

Miranda Wahnsielder: Absolutely. One of the biggest complications that we see with infant death are complications related to preterm deliveries. And a lot of times that happens because we have moms who are coming on with complications that could be potentially attributed to unhealthy lifestyles that lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular complications, bleeding complications in which we have to deliver early and anytime you deliver baby early, that sets the stage for additional health complications throughout the early years of development, that increases chances of an unexpected death.

So yeah, for a mom to eat well, be active, avoid substances like alcohol, smoking, marijuana, all of those things are things that we can do to get them through a very routine, prenatal course and get them all the resources that they need to get the baby as far along their pregnancy as it is appropriate, and getting them to deliver at the most appropriate facility. So that way, once the baby delivers, we can manage them appropriately based upon a sort of complications that may develop.

Shelley Kirk: Okay, now we are running out of time. So really quickly, I really want to ask you one thing that’s very important here. So if you could get, I don’t know if there’s a short answer possible, but safe sleeping. I understand that despite all the efforts that we have in education, and programs available, we still have a problem with babies dying from unsafe sleeping right here in Vanderburgh County in the southern Indiana area. What can you say rather quickly about that to folks listening?

Miranda Wahnsiedler: Absolutely, totally breaks my heart. But yes, we have done education, training, we’ve given out cribs, we’ve given out pack and plays, we’ve done a ton of things with community projects to get the education out there. And what we’re seeing is even in those sleep-related death cases, there’s cribs in the home, people just aren’t using them.

There’s still situations where people are falling asleep with their babies in bed with them, propping them up with bottles, and just not following the ABCs, those guidelines that are put out there. And it’s sad because those are 100 percent preventable when you see those babies who died way too soon when they didn’t need to, based on sleep-related issues.

Shelley Kirk: Right. All right. Well, so definitely follow those guidelines. No, no exceptions. So Miranda Whansiedler, thank you so much. Nurse Specialist there at Ascension St. Vincent, I thank you for taking the time to talk with us, and hopefully, we can make a difference. Thank you so much.

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