While the term ‘rainbow baby’ may not be known to most people — to those who have experienced one, it can be life-altering to say the least.
A rainbow baby “is a baby born after a miscarriage, stillborn, or neonatal death,” Jennifer Kulp-Makarov, M.D., FACOG, shared with Parents.com.
“It is called a rainbow baby because it is like a rainbow after a storm: something beautiful after something scary and dark.”
“It is an extremely emotional and devastating experience to lose a pregnancy [or baby]. To create a life or bring a baby into the world after such a loss is amazing like a miracle for these parents,” she shares.
“For parents who have experienced the loss of a child, whether that loss occurs before or after birth, the life adjustments associated with pregnancy are accompanied with an acute sense of gratitude even when they are uncomfortable,” Elizabeth Lorde-Rollins, M.D., MSc, Obstetrics and Gynecology, CareMount Medical adds.
“And although most of us have the great fortune of being wanted babies, parents tend to have a special, and in many cases incredibly sharp, sense of being blessed when they are expecting and then giving birth to a baby that follows loss.”
But Dr. Kulp-Makarov warns, “The birth and newborn stage of a rainbow baby are different for parents who have suffered a loss. They can expect a rush of strong and complicated emotions. Parents may swing between this amazing awe at their new baby and strong fear that something may happen and they may lose this new baby too.”
Guilt is a feeling that is common for parents who welcome a rainbow baby, adds Dr. Lorde-Rollins.
“Parents can feel that being excited about the new pregnancy or loving this new baby when he or she arrives, is somehow a betrayal of the baby they lost.” Dr. Kulp-Makarov says. “These parents need a lot of emotional support during pregnancy and birth.”
Dr. Kulp-Makarov goes on to explain how the term “rainbow baby” is becoming more mainstream which has helped to increase awareness around loss and healing.
“These babies are a beautiful example of how women’s bodies and spirits can heal after a pregnancy or neonatal loss,” she says.
If you or someone you love is struggling with pregnancy after a loss, be sure to check in with PALS or Pregnancy After Loss Support. Their website states: “PALS supports courageous mamas pregnant again after a loss through connection with peers, awareness in the community, education of providers, and advocacy around the world.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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