After her traumatic pregnancy loss experiences, Aditi Loveridge searched for a place to go for support. Options were limited — nothing felt right.
So, instead, she created her own space.
In 2019, she co-founded the Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support Centre (PILSC) to provide services like helplines, counselling and support groups to individuals who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss or infertility, no matter how much time has passed.
Loveridge didn’t always see the centre in her career path.
“I didn’t wake up one morning deciding to start the centre. It was more my life experience, and the universe, or whatever you wish to call it, kind of nudging me along the way.”
Loveridge experienced two pregnancy losses before the birth of her living child, with grief and systemic racism at hospitals playing a part in the trauma.
“It was very lonely, very isolating, changed everything about me and what I found was there was very little support.”
The options she had after the initial medical treatment were a social worker and a support group – Loveridge found herself struggling to fit in those spaces.
The experience inspired her to train as a doula, life coach and meditation teacher but she didn’t know what to do with those certifications until a friend asked Loveridge to attend as she gave birth to a baby with an ‘incompatible with life’ diagnosis.
“That was when everything kind of came together for me. I realized that I needed to be there that day not necessarily to be of support in that moment, but more in that support role afterwards.”
Already having a social work background, she started a coaching business for pregnancy and infant loss grief. Her clientele grew rapidly.
“What I was hearing was that the community was wanting more community support at every stage of the loss of the journey, support that was run by bereaved parents, not medical professionals.”
She shared the idea of opening a centre in Calgary with Dr. Stephanie Cooper, an obstetrician-gynecologist she shared clients with, and received a positive response.
“She was kind of that little push that I needed to know, OK, it’s not only community members that are feeling the need, it’s also medical professionals that are seeking somewhere to refer families that’s more meaningful.”
The centre provides many services – an anonymous helpline that connects to peer volunteers, free one-on-one professional counselling, and specific support groups like initial grief, post-abortion and pregnancy after loss.
“I had somebody message me the other day who had a counselling appointment at a very critical time in this family’s journey and she … said, ‘That counsellor is doing life-saving work,’” Loveridge says.
The PLISC addressed gaps Loveridge noticed in the health care system and the lack of support available – ensuring people can seek help at any point in their loss journey.
“The groups and the support that was available at the time was focused around the initial loss period and not the trying to conceive, not pregnant again, not like ‘Hey, it’s been 10 years, I still want to connect with the community.’”
Diversity is also a priority for Loveridge, who says “it’s important all people are represented,” regardless of race, gender and sexuality.
The circumstances of the loss can vary widely – the PLISC helps individuals who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, Termination for Medical Reasons, neonatal loss, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, infertility or abortion.
“The reality is there are so many diverse forms of pregnancy and infant loss and if we’re only supporting certain types, then we are not supporting the entire community.”
According to Loveridge, there are many mental health challenges that accompany physical symptoms of pregnancy and infant loss, from strained relationships with one’s partner to newfound struggles with faith.
“I lost a lot of friendships. I know a lot of people lose a lot of friendships,” Loveridge says.
Amen Dhaliwal lost her daughter five days prior to her due date, and this experience inspired her to join the board of PILSC.
“I found that there was not a lot of support after I lost her,” Dhaliwal says. “When I found the centre and how much it helped me, I wanted to do the same for others.”
Many families that have used the services go on to volunteer or make monetary donations through their Legacy Sponsorship Program.
“It’s like we really become this family that even once they’ve gone through that initial support period, they stay with us and I think that’s a testament to how meaningful the support is for the community.”