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Pushing On - Support for Moms After Pregnancy Loss

Pushing On - Support for Moms After Pregnancy Loss

When Patricia Wright submitted her research proposal on women’s experiences of pregnancy loss to the University’s Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects (IRB), she knew revisions and questions about the protocol were to be expected. She got one question, however, that caught her by surprise. She was asked to name local pregnancy loss support resources available to study participants – and realized there weren’t any. This insight gave her the opportunity to use her research to make a difference in the community.

As a clinician, Dr. Wright chose to work as a hospice nurse where she found the most difficult part was supporting families preparing for loss. Her desire to find better ways to support grieving families inspired her to choose bereavement research as her life’s work. In her doctoral program, she chose to focus on mothers’ experiences of losing a child and specifically on loss during pregnancy. In her research, Dr. Wright found that women’s grief after pregnancy loss can be emotionally devastating and all-consuming. The women in Dr. Wright’s study felt that people didn’t understand the ongoing nature of their pain, and they felt pressure to move on too soon. Comments like “you can try again” or “at least you didn’t have time to get to know the baby,” though well-meant, minimized their pain and caused feelings of isolation. With support and in time, many women did find meaning in their suffering, but the pain of pregnancy loss haunted them on special occasions like the anniversary of the loss or Mother’s Day. The women also reported feelings of anxiety during a subsequent pregnancy that they felt others didn’t understand. Knowing that successful pregnancy loss support groups were available in other areas, Dr. Wright took steps to provide this helpful resource for women in our area. 

With the help of a generous collaborative grant offered jointly by The University of Scranton and Marywood University, faculty from both institutions were able to partner with staff from the Commonwealth Home Health and Hospice of Lackawanna County to start a pregnancy loss support group in Scranton. The group, guided by the “Pushing On Theory of Maternal Perinatal Bereavement” that Dr. Wright developed in her research, is named “Pushing On: Support for Moms after Pregnancy Loss.” The group meets on the third Wednesday of each month. For more information, please see www.pushingon.org.

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