Pregnancy – it’s a time when women are supposed to feel excitement and anticipation. However, for hundreds of women each year, their experiences are filled with grief and heartache. Some may not be able to conceive, some may suffer from anxiety or depression, and some may go through infant loss, but what unites them is that when they need help, they turn to Dr. Tuong-Vi Nguyen of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).
Dr. Nguyen is a reproductive psychiatrist who specializes in treating psychiatric disorders during reproductive stages, such as the premenstrual, pregnancy, and postpartum periods. A graduate of McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine, she completed a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland before returning to the MUHC. “I see between 300 and 400 new cases per year,” Dr. Nguyen explains. “I often see many referral cases from other hospitals related to miscarriages and genetic anomalies, among others,” she says.
Another aspect of Dr. Nguyen’s work relates to perinatal loss, the passing of an infant during pregnancy or soon after. “10 to 15 percent of the women I treat have experienced perinatal loss,” Dr. Nguyen states. “These are among the most challenging because no two cases are alike and the grieving process is very different depending on the person,” she says.
While perinatal loss remains a very difficult topic to discuss publicly, Dr. Nguyen is keen to raise awareness. In collaboration with the MUHC Foundation, she and a group of mothers who have lost their babies are working together to raise $30,000 through a project called Cradles for Cuddles.
Part of the funds from this campaign will be used to purchase a CuddleCot, a cooling crib that lets families spend more time with their infant after their passing. This CuddleCot will be the first of its kind in Quebec and will be used at the MUHC’s state-of-the-art Birthing Centre at the Glen site. The group is also working to raise funds to establish free therapy sessions, which will support bereaved parents through the grieving process.
The Cradles for Cuddles campaign will help Dr. Nguyen and her colleagues continue to provide compassionate care during one of the toughest times for women and their families.