More women who experience pregnancy loss are diagnosed with PTSD than war veterans. But now Yad Sarah is here to help.

The first-of-its-kind wellness center in Israel focuses on the needs of women who recently suffered a stillbirth or perinatal loss. It is open to everyone in Israel — religious, secular, Jewish and Arab — and the costs are significantly subsidized. Dr. Chana Katan, a gynecologist for 35 years, reviews patients’ hospital discharge papers and oversees clinical and medical needs.

Our goal is to help women who have gone through a stillbirth find the strength to continue, cope and heal.

The women who come to the center usually arrive emotionally shattered. They are embraced with understanding and attentive listening, followed by supportive conversations.

Since its opening, the center received hundreds of inquiries, and 20 women booked rooms, each for an average of three nights.

Each woman receives a quiet and soothing environment designed for recovery from trauma. They have access to support groups, therapy, a private dining room, dedicated rooms for activities and enrichment, and free access to the facility's spa services.

Patients are also allowed to come as a couple if they wish. Recently, one woman staying at the Center, who experienced a stillbirth with her first pregnancy, came with her husband but still refused to leave her room, even in his company. Slowly, though, she began to interact with some of the other clients and spent more time in the common areas. Staff helped her to understand that her husband wants to support her, and that he, too, is experiencing loss. When they left the facility after their four-day stay, they left as a united couple.

The center is a project in conjunction with Nitzotzot Inbar, an organization that educates hospital staff about pregnancy loss. Its name, “Sparks of Inbar,” is named after the founder’s daughter, who died in utero at nine months gestation.

Nitzotzot Inbar has been interested in a project like this for many years — and they are not the only ones.

One woman called to see if a room was available. “When was your perinatal incident?” the Yad Sarah volunteer on the phone asked gently. “It was 25 years ago,” the woman said. “I’ve just been waiting for something like this since then!”

"Our goal is to help women who have gone through a stillbirth find the strength to continue, cope and heal," said Moshe Cohen, CEO of Yad Sarah.

The center is in Yad Sarah’s new Yermiyahu 33 Hotel, which provides crucial recuperation for people to continue their recovery from surgery, strokes, heart attacks, car accidents, and other serious episodes.

But what it offers is very different. While some medical support is available, the main goal is to provide space for women’s mental and emotional recovery, to spare women the rough immediate integration back into home life after a stillbirth.

That’s why Dr. Katan’s leadership is invaluable, too: in addition to her professional experience, she herself experienced a stillbirth, and so did her daughter. Dr. Katan drew on the pain to dedicate herself to her field, as well as teach and write. In 2021, she was awarded the prestigious Jerusalem Prize for outstanding accomplishments in her field.

One of the women who stayed at the center was finally able to confront her loss after the most recent of four stillbirths. Through counseling and support, she realized she wasn't alone: She met other women in similar situations and understood she had a place to open up and cope. When she returned home, she noted that she felt a "void in her heart had been filled."

This woman’s experience is replicated again and again.

Last week, five women staying at the facility gathered for a group support session. Without any instructions, they began to share their experience and how they are coping after going through stillbirth. The bulk of their conversation was focused on supporting the older children in their families. But as a beautiful and touching dynamic formed, the conversation veered away from the topic of stillbirth. The women simply enjoyed each other’s company. At the end of the session, some of them confessed that, for a few moments, they had forgotten the reason they were at the center.

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