What Is A Rainbow Baby
What does rainbow baby mean? This term is used to refer to newborn babies born after their mother experiences a death during infancy, stillbirth or miscarriage. This is an apt term for babies who are born after a sudden loss and the resulting “storm” that their parents had to endure before they were conceived. As a rainbow follows after a storm, a rainbow baby follows the death of a previous sibling.
Women who deliver a rainbow baby often experience a wide range of emotions. Those who become pregnant after enduring a pregnancy loss may feel guilt that they weren’t to save or properly mourn the passing of their angel baby. But, the truth is, is that parents may always mourn the loss of their child .
Where Did This Term Come From?
Suffering from a neonatal death can be devastating for expecting parents. The excitement of a pregnancy that is unexpectedly terminated whether as an early miscarriage or later as a stillborn often leads to unfounded feelings of guilt for not providing proper care for their baby during pregnancy. It is crucial to realize that both partners go through an emotional storm of grief. For couples learning that they are pregnant once more, there is a feeling of hope that can temper their longing for the baby that they lost. What does rainbow baby mean? The term rainbow baby comes from the sense of happiness that they feel after weathering a crisis.
Aside from the term rainbow baby, you will also hear some women mention sunshine babies. However, these two terms are different from one another. The term rainbow baby is used when you give birth after an infant loss. A sunshine baby is a baby that was born before a miscarriage or infant death. As for the term, angel baby, this is used as a reference to babies who have passed away .
How Common Are Rainbow Babies?
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), around 10% to 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage with 75% referred to as chemical pregnancies where women experience a miscarriage even before they knew they were pregnant. In cases of chemical pregnancies, a fertilized egg implants in the uterus and cells that would become to placenta begin to produce levels of the pregnancy hormone hCG. These hormones are high enough to detect on a blood or urine test. However, for some reason, the implantation is not completed . This is one of the reasons why women tend to wait until they are in their second trimester to announce their pregnancy.
Often, the main focus of having a rainbow baby is that it represents new hope for parents who previously lost a baby. But, there is a darker side to a rainbow pregnancy. Feelings of grief and the subsequent emotions can be unleashed the moment partners learn they pregnant once more. Some parents may feel expecting another child is a new chapter for them. But for others, this can trigger anxiety, crying, and the fear that they may lose a baby once more. This type of pregnancy can be emotionally challenging for expecting mothers and their partners because of the conflicting feelings of happiness and hope versus fear, anxiety, pain, and remorse. Every story of miscarriage is unique. Friends and family may be at a loss of what to say during this new pregnancy. Either parent can develop postpartum depression afterward .
Rainbow Babies And Social Media
Feelings of guilt after losing an infant is a common side effect after a miscarriage or stillborn. Some parents may see the new pregnancy as a betrayal of the baby that they have lost. At this point, parents need the emotional support of friends and family. Professional counseling can also be beneficial to work through grief and guilt. Thanks to social media, more parents can share their ordeal with others allowing them to feel less alienated.
Through social media sites, women can find others who miscarried and share their experience. These women have a unique view and can express empathy and provide comfort to women experiencing grief. They may also be able to share helpful tips on how to cope with their feelings. Thanks to an increased awareness of giving birth after a neonatal loss, many parents have been able to work through their feelings of grief and look forward to expecting a baby girl or boy.
Don’t Be Afraid To Seek Professional Support
Pregnancy after losing a baby can leave you being pulled at opposite emotional directions. A lot of women will experience fear as well as joy knowing that they are pregnant. If you are feeling overwhelmed it pays to talk to an expert. Choose a doctor or counselor who is familiar with your pregnancy history. Hospitals as well as health care practitioners now understand the necessity of being more sensitive and supportive to the needs of a mother and her partner who experienced previous miscarriages or infant loss. It’s important for parents to mention feelings of anxiety, sadness, or fear during the doctor’s appointment so help can be established. Ask your OB if they can refer you to a therapist or mental health expert who can guide you through this new chapter in your life .
Why Some Parents Avoid Referring to Their New Baby as Rainbow Baby
Some parents are hesitant to refer to their infant as a rainbow baby.
For some women, trying to conceive after a miscarriage or neonatal death can be difficult, especially when they are undergoing infertility treatments. Waiting to see if infertility injections work or an embryo transfer is necessary can wreak havoc on both partners. Then, when a pregnancy is established, a whole new range of feelings appear. For these parents, referencing the term “rainbow baby” may bring back memories of guilt and grief.
First-time pregnant couples rejoice at hearing their baby’s heartbeat. But, couples who have experienced a miscarriage and are just weeks pregnant may be fearful of listening to their baby’s heartbeat. These parents may feel a mixture of dread and fear that they may lose this baby as well. Sometimes, these parents choose to avoid mentioning the pregnancy until they are reasonably certain they will be able to carry their baby to full term .
Some parents may feel referring to their infant as a rainbow baby is unfair because they do not want to infer that the new baby is a replacement for the one who has passed. Instead, they want to make sure they are viewed as an individual with their own unique personality.
What To Expect When You Bring Home A Rainbow Baby
When a baby is born after a previous miscarriage, it’s understandable that there may be mixed emotions for both the wife and husband. A newborn brings a lot of changes in the household. While rainbow babies may help temper the feelings of grief, the reality is you may feel a bit conflicted. Here are some situations either partner may experience.
It’s hard to determine what can trigger an episode of grief. Parents may find themselves crying at the sight of newborn clothes or even a sleeping baby. If you think you may have developed postpartum depression, it’s a good idea to visit your MD to help monitor hormones and emotion. It’s important to note that dads can experience postpartum depression as well. A therapist can help with these feelings.
After losing an infant, some parents are fearful of taking care of their newborn. Seeing your beautiful baby can be a bright rainbow indeed, but the fear of having to take care of a new life when you have lost a previous one can feel overwhelming at times. Again, neither partner should hide these feelings but get help through professional channels.
Using your angel baby’s name
For some families, passing down a name is a long-standing custom. For babies who passed before being able to continue this tradition, some parents consider naming their next infant the same name. This practice is not unusual. Until this century, approximately one-third of children died . Thus, names were often “recycled” often in deference of beloved family members. Sometimes, these children are called by the first names or are known by their middle names.
Feelings of being overprotectiveness or detachment
Some mothers may feel either detached or overprotective with their rainbow baby. This is an understandable response to such a loss. Unfortunately, some feel a sense of detachment with their beautiful baby as they are afraid of becoming too attached for fear that they cannot take another loss. On the other hand, you can expect the “mama bear” to take over when others get too close to their baby.
Looking For Your Angel Baby
A common, but a confusing reaction, is to look for your angel baby in the face of your newborn. Of course, you know your newborn is not the same as your angel baby, but it’s perfectly normal to look for similarities, if only for a second.
Grieving Can Be Ongoing
Grief and mourning doesn’t end with the birth of a rainbow baby. Parents who experienced the death of a child may grieve at the thought of unfulfilled milestones … and this is okay.
Celebrating A Rainbow Baby
Some mothers are ecstatic to find themselves carrying a new life after they have lost a child. Babies born to these moms and dads may find themselves the recipients of a rainbow photo shoot and a colorful rainbow-themed shower. These babies may experience a newborn shoot and subsequent birthday parties. What is a rainbow baby? For these parents, a rainbow baby is a reminder that “something good comes out of something bad.”
These parents know their angel babies are never forgotten no matter how many months or years have passed. There will always be a special place in their heart for their angel baby. Even when parents are cradling their newborn in their arms, they realize these babies are not a replacement for the one they have lost. They are merely adding to their family.
What Is A Rainbow Baby Resources:
 The Bump; What Is A Rainbow Baby?, Cherlaine Tabo.
 The Sun; What is a ‘rainbow baby’ and where does the phrase describing babies born following miscarriages or stillbirths come from?, Recbecca Flood, October 08, 2018.
 What To Expect; What Is A Chemical Pregnancy, December 08, 2017.
 Thought Catalog; What Is A Rainbow Baby? This Is Everything You Need To Know About The First Child Born After A Miscarriage, Brianna Wiest, October 09, 2018.
 Very Well Family; What to Expect When You’re Pregnant With a Rainbow Baby, Chaunie Brusie, RN, Anita Sadaty, MD, October 21, 2018.