At RADfertility, we understand that infertility can be a very isolating disease to face. It is important to know you are not alone. The purpose of the Making a Difference series is to highlight the dedicated organizations and individuals in the community available to help you on your journey.
Our community is filled with extraordinary people doing extraordinary things. Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS) is dedicated to courageous mamas who are pregnant again after a loss by providing connection with peers, awareness in the community, education of providers, and advocacy around the world. We had the opportunity to chat with Valerie Meek, the Operations Director at PALS, to learn more about this special resource for our patient community.
What is the story behind the Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS) organization and when was it founded?
Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS) was founded in June 2014 by Lindsey Henke. Lindsey’s first daughter, Nora, was stillborn at 41 weeks after a perfectly healthy pregnancy. During her pregnancy after loss, Lindsey needed extra support and found none. She didn’t quite fit in either the bereaved parents community or the “normal” pregnancy community, so she found pregnancy after loss very isolating. After the healthy birth of her second daughter, Zoe, she envisioned a space for the pregnant after loss mom and when Zoe was three months old, she launched PALS as an online magazine.
The need was great, and shortly after launching PALS, peer-to-peer support groups were started on Facebook to further support the community. As PALS continued to grow, they formed a board of directors and became incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2017.
What are some of the resources that the PALS community provides?
Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS) is a non-profit organization and community support resource for parents experiencing the confusing and conflicting emotions of grief mixed with joy during the journey through pregnancy after loss. PALS seeks to help expectant parents celebrate their current pregnancy by choosing hope over fear while still nurturing and honoring the grief over the loss of their deceased child.
PALS other services include the Pregnancy After Loss App, an online magazine, online peer-moderated support groups, local meet-ups, outreach and education through speaking and tabling at professional conferences, resource listings for families and healthcare providers, and a newsletter.
You recently launched the first app for parents who are pregnant after loss. Can you tell us more about this?
PALS launched the Pregnancy After Loss App in 2021 – the first app customized for the unique journey of pregnancy after loss. It’s designed to support the entire emotional journey as mothers, and their partners, go through pregnancy with the potential ups and downs of their experience in mind. The app was the most-requested service from the community, and has already helped thousands of parents as they navigate pregnancy after loss.
The app offers personalized support through every high and low of pregnancy after loss. Features of the Pregnancy After Loss App include customized pregnancy progress updates, resources for coping with and persevering through difficult times, and exclusive support from the PALS community on prenatal topics unique to pregnancy after miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant death that aren’t found in other pregnancy apps.
As a healthcare provider, we especially value the tools and resources you share to help us support our patients. What is the biggest takeaway you wish providers would remember when caring for the PALS community?
We created an acronym to help healthcare providers treating the mom pregnant after loss – PALS: Pause, Acknowledge, Listen, & Support
P – Pause to take a moment to review the pregnant after loss mom’s history and be fully present with her.
A – Acknowledge the pregnant after loss mom’s parenthood by asking about her previous loss and if her baby was named use baby’s name at appointments.
L – Listen by following the pregnant after loss mom’s lead and taking added time to understand her unique physical and emotional needs.
S – Support the pregnant after loss mom by offering additional emotional support through extra visits, access to a 24-hour nurses line, as well as other professional and peer resources.
We love how you share that you are a community of courageous mamas. What advice do you have for these courageous mamas navigating their pregnancy after loss journey?
Acknowledge what a hard journey pregnancy after loss is – many say it is the hardest thing they’ve done since the loss of their child. Advocate for yourself and your baby to have the support and care needed through the journey. Give yourself space for both the joy and the grief. And, be gentle with yourself. Know there are resources available and access them as you need them.
How can RADfertility and the community support PALS?
March is Pregnancy After Loss Awareness Month and a great time to spread awareness about the unique experience of pregnancy after loss. The biggest way to support PALS is by sharing our resources with those who need them, especially letting parents who are trying to conceive or pregnant after loss know about our app. We also have our big fundraising walk coming up in June, which is a tremendous way to both spread awareness and help fund the programs and services at PALS.
Is there anything we didn’t mention that you feel is important for others to know about your organization?
PALS is a volunteer-run organization, fueled by the community. The work and growth of PALS would not be possible without the community that has financially supported, volunteered, or benefited from PALS services. The community asked for the app and then through a grassroots effort funded it. It’s incredible to see the community come together to support and grow PALS to service more families going through pregnancy after loss.
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Newark, DE 19713
Silverside Medical Center
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Wilmington, DE 19810
Eden Hill Medical Center
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Dover, DE 19904
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