‘Unbirth Announcement’ gives voice to parents grieving pregnancy loss

Sunnybrook’s PAIL Network campaign, created by No Fixed Address, normalizes conversations about the taboo topic.

Although a quarter of all pregnancies end in loss, societal stigmas force would-be parents to grieve in silence.

Canadian hospital Sunnybrook’s Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Network partnered with creative agency No Fixed Address to change that narrative with a campaign called #UnsilenceTheConversation.

The campaign includes a video called “The Unborn Announcement,” which features a male and female narrator describing losing a pregnancy. The scenes show a nursery with an empty crib, unworn onesies and empty picture frames. The PSA ends with a link to resources from the PAIL Network.

“This is an unbirth announcement,” the narrator says. “Not a baby picture of any kind, photo of a first smile or tiny finger wrapped around mine. So if I seem subdued, distant, preoccupied, I’m just dealing with something bigger. This hollow feeling deep inside.”

The campaign also includes “The Baby Ad Opt-Out,” a web browser plug-in that blocks baby product ads targeted at expectant parents based on their search history. The ads can continue to appear on websites and social media for up to 540 days, serving as a triggering reminder of recent loss.

The campaign is meant to help parents who are suffering a pregnancy or infant loss express their pain and ask for support.

“These parents are going through this enormous life event, but don’t have an outlet for their grief because they felt like they couldn't talk about it,” Domenique Raso, associate creative director at No Fixed Address, told Campaign US. ”There’s a sense of shame associated with it. The idea was to bring that insight to life, give people a way to talk about their loss and an outlet for their grief.”

Michelle La Fontaine, program manager at PAIL Network, hopes the video will be “an invitation” for parents to safely open up to loved ones, whether they are dealing with a recent or past loss.

“We've heard from people how much they wish it existed when they experienced a loss because it's not something that goes away,” she said. “The loss of that baby is an irreplaceable part of your family. Even when families go on to have more children, it's not like that disappears from their lives.”

Working on a campaign that addresses such a sensitive topic required lots of “open dialogue meetings” between Sunnybrook’s PAIL Network and No Fixed Address to accurately portray the experiences of these families, said La Fontaine. 

Raso particularly wanted to make sure the dialogue in the spot felt “authentic” by listening to families who have suffered a pregnancy or infant loss.

“Ultimately, we wanted to offer language to something that doesn't often have language attached to it, which then compounds the silence, isolation and stigma,” La Fontaine added. ”It's been incredibly powerful for families to see that not only is there support for them, but there's also a way to talk about this.”

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