What is a rainbow baby?

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A rainbow baby is a term referred to a healthy baby who is born after pregnancy loss, such as miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death, ectopic pregnancy. The term rainbow baby might be confusing to you if you have not experienced pregnancy loss, but for many who have it is a symbol of hope.

The idea of the rainbow is meant to symbolise hope, light and joy after experiencing such a heartbreaking loss. Much how a rainbow appears in the sky after the rain or a storm. Rainbow babies are often described as ‘miracle’ babies for their ability to help their parents heal, and love again.

The birth of a rainbow baby can be a time of both great joy and great sadness for parents who have experienced the loss of a baby. The new arrival can bring those emotions to the surface meaning that they may experience mixed emotions around the birth.

The conflicting emotions that come with grieving a loss – whilst at the same time celebrating a healthy arrival – can be difficult to bear for many parents. Feelings of guilt and anxiety and even fear, for the new baby, are very common.

Pregnancy after loss 

Pregnancy after loss can be layered with heightened emotions around what has happened previously. Whilst a rainbow baby is a beautiful sign of joy and hope, it does not erase the memories of the little ones lost.

For women who have experienced pregnancy loss, the thought of being pregnant again can be too much to bear. Some women will choose to take time before trying to conceive again, to give their body and their heart time to heal and process what has happened. 

Other women yearn to be pregnant again, and despite the fear and the anxiety around what has happened, they want to feel that life inside them once again. However they then fear that others might think they do not care or have “moved on”. They may also find that they experience a newfound appreciation for pregnancy that they didn’t have before – finding comfort in the symptoms such as morning sickness or breast tenderness. Seeing them as a little reassurance of their baby inside them, and helping them to enjoy the process and the milestones a little more.

There is no right or wrong way to feel as you weather the difficult storm of pregnancy loss and once you welcome a rainbow baby. Understanding that all the emotions are very normal, the highs and lows are a very real part of the experience.

Navigating a pregnancy or welcoming a new baby when you are grieving a loss can be difficult. There are so many great sources of help and support available. 

Remember that a rainbow baby doesn’t mean you loved your first baby any less, or that they will be forgotten. A rainbow baby helps to heal your heart and will always serve as a beautiful reminder of the light that came after the dark.

Speak with your loved ones about how you are feeling, and if you feel like would like to speak with your doctor, midwife or find access to support at Pink Elephant or SANDS.

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