Lehigh Valley

Lehigh Valley mom raises money to help grieving families

FOUNTAIN HILL, Pa. - After carrying her for six months, Krista Reiger did not have long to say goodbye to her baby, Stella, who was born still.

"After we left the hospital we kind of were lost, there was nothing," Reiger said.

Heartbroken and out of sorts, Reiger decided to channel her devastation into finding ways to help others going through a similar loss.

"I just started researching and knew it was my way of grieving, I needed to give back," Reiger said.

That's when she discovered the cuddle cot, a cooling device that preserves a stillborn's body so the family has more time with the baby.

"It's important to be able to spend as much time with the baby as possible because that's all the time that you get."

Reflecting on her own, painful experience, Reiger knew a cuddle cot could have helped.

So, she and her family donated one of the device to St. Luke's Hospital in honor of Stella.

"It just became our passion that we wanted to provide it to other families that were going through what we went through," Reiger said.

When babies are born still, if they are not kept cold, their bodies can start to deteriorate.  Health experts at St. Luke's say it’s not clear exactly how long the cuddle cot will extend a family's time with the baby, but every minute counts.

"Having Krista donate the cuddle cot will allow us to do even more for each family," said Mary Toole-Bisco with New Beginnings Family Birth Center.

Reiger says she hopes the cuddle cot not only gives parents more time to say goodbye but helps start a tough conversation.

"Stillborns and miscarriages and infant loss is just something that's not discussed."

Reiger also created a support group called Stella's Hearts for area families who have lost an infant.  The group will meet the first Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at the Lehigh Valley Breast Feeding Center in Allentown.  The first meeting is set for November 7th.

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