‘Rainbow baby’ is a term used to describe a baby born after the parents have previously lost a baby.
They might have had a miscarriage, stillbirth, or a baby who died shortly after birth.
You might have heard someone call their child their rainbow baby, and got the sense that it meant something important.
It can be difficult to ask another parent what it means.
Or maybe you are pregnant or have recently had a baby yourself, and someone who knows that you’ve had a miscarriage or infant loss in the past has called your child a rainbow baby.
A rainbow baby is a living baby.
The phrase has become popular on Mom forums on the Internet, and on blogs and social media, and it is used with warmth and love.
It’s based on the idea of a rainbow appearing in the sky after a storm; the promise of color and light after a difficult time.
Losing a baby at any stage of pregnancy or after birth, and for any reason, can be incredibly hard.
Many parents experience deep and painful grief after their loss, and some suffer from depression and anxiety as a result.
It’s also a lonely kind of loss.
When an older living person dies there is usually a whole group of people who grieve for that person together.
There is understanding between them; they share the loss, and that creates a support network which helps each person to manage their grief.
But when you lose a baby it’s sometimes only the parents who feel that grief especially when there’s been an early miscarriage.
Although Dads grieve the loss of babies too, it can be hardest for Moms who have carried the child in their womb and felt a close connection before losing their baby.
Mixed Emotions are OK
Having a term to easily tell others that your pregnancy has come after a loss can be helpful.
It lets them know that you’re likely to be experiencing mixed emotions.
You’re happy to have your new baby but still sad about your previous loss, and the combination of those feelings can be very tough and confusing.
Parents might experience powerful relief and joy at a new pregnancy, and at the birth of a healthy baby, after going through a loss earlier on.
But at the same time they might feel very anxious and fearful that something might happen to the new baby.
It’s normal, too, for parents to feel guilty when they think about the baby they’ve lost in comparison to their new baby.
All of these feelings are normal and it’s important to allow yourself to feel them.
It’s also important to let your close family and friends know that you’re going through a rollercoaster of emotions and need a bit of extra support.
The medical team looking after you during and after your new pregnancy can also help to reassure you and refer you for extra support if you need it — so don’t be afraid to open up to them.
It can feel as though you will never recover from the grief of losing a baby. And it can be really hard to talk about if you feel that no one really understands, or that people expect you to ‘just get on with it’ once a pregnancy is over.
This pain heals in time, but it’s important to give yourself space to grieve and seek support for as long as you need it. There are no rules about how quickly you should recover from losing a child.
When it comes to a rainbow baby pregnancy, Moms who have lost a baby in the past are more likely to feel anxious during pregnancy, and more likely to experience postnatal depression. Know that you are not alone in this, and that you can ask for help.
Take things slowly and spend time doing gentle self-care activities that help you to feel connected with your new pregnancy.
And remember that everything you feel is normal.
You haven’t done anything wrong, and you are absolutely allowed to be happy about your rainbow baby while still feeling sad about the baby you lost.