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A Place for Grieving Parents

Alexandra Andreiu (EDI ‘23) talks about her thesis project and developing a framework for a digital platform to help parents going through loss from miscarriages and stillbirths.

After completing her thesis project in Northwestern's Master of Science in Engineering Design Innovation (EDI) program, Alexandra Andreiu (EDI ‘23) has greater reverence for the untold suffering often endured by parents who mourn a child's death.  

Andreiu spoke with parents whose children were stillborn or miscarried for her thesis project — a framework for a holistic digital platform called “co” that aims to help grieving mothers navigate the experience of pregnancy loss. 

She put EDI’s key tenet of human-centered design into practice to find out the true pain that often goes unaddressed by parents who suffer the loss of a child before or soon after birth.  

Human-centered design is an approach to product and service development that creates things people truly want and need. It is necessary to interview and deeply research potential end-users.  

“Miscarriages and stillbirths are not usually thought of as an unexpected death,” Andreiu said. “I wanted to use my thesis project as a way to raise awareness and begin to break the stigma around pregnancy loss.”  

The idea behind “co” is to curate the overwhelming amount of information available on grief, weed through it to find what’s pertinent for the platform’s target audience, and create a space for grieving parents to find those who understand what they are feeling.   

The platform centers on three core pillars: content, comfort, and connection:   

To discover how to build “co” on these three pillars, Andreiu interviewed parents who suffered such losses and observed a virtual support group meeting.  

“I actually knew very little about miscarriages and stillbirths before embarking on this project,” she said. “I met some incredible individuals who were so open and willing to share their stories and experiences with me. They were grateful to have someone focus on this space since stigmatization forces lots of loss parents to suffer in silence.”  

Andreiu said the experiences she had from thesis will be beneficial to her professionally after graduation.  

“Through the EDI program, I have learned to lean into ambiguity and to embrace discomfort,” she said. “Thesis was a project where I learned a lot about how to handle ambiguity and use it as a motivator in reaching my goals. I look forward to taking the lessons I learned from thesis and remaining relentlessly curious into my post-NU career.”  

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