Nothing prepares an expectant parent for the loss of their infant. The joy that comes with pregnancy and the anticipation of a newborn is rudely cut off. What follows after this can be traumatizing and filled with deep sadness. It is from this pain that when parents try again, this time successfully, the term rainbow baby is coined from.
A rainbow baby is a child born to parents who have experienced the loss of their child at a stage of infancy due to a miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death (also referred to as newborn death.)
Mixed emotions with a rainbow baby
After the loss, the strength to try again can be difficult to muster. The mother is dealing with an overwhelming sense of grief, sadness, and other forms of emotions that can be hard to articulate.
When she does try, there is the terrifying fear that this time wouldn’t be any different. You find yourself grieving all over again and reliving the guilt or shame you have heaped on yourself because you feel that you didn’t try hard enough.
Aside from this, parents might feel as though they are betraying the baby they lost by welcoming a rainbow baby with love and happiness, or the opposite happens where they feel guilty for not giving the rainbow baby enough joy because of the loss. These emotions are normal and cannot be controlled. Instead, understand that you can honour the loss and celebrate the joy at the same time.
Anxiety when expecting a rainbow baby
When expecting a rainbow baby, there is a common feeling of anxiety between both parents. There is the worry that this might lead to another loss or something terrible might happen to the baby. It is only expected that parents feel this way considering what they have been through.
This is the time to seek support from friends, each other, as well as a doctor who is aware of your history and can be sensitive to your concerns and fears. Anxiety can lead you to put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect. Partners need to support each other, join emotional support groups to help them through the process, and find methods to deal with their worries.
Monitoring your rainbow baby
Regular visits to the hospital and checkups by your doctor are important. Professional counsel and careful monitoring during the term of your pregnancy is good for the baby and also parents because of the comfort that comes with knowing the step by step process of development and what to watch out for. Watching your rainbow baby grow can be amazing for your mind, don’t be in a hurry, and let yourself enjoy this process instead of anticipating the end goal. Take one day at a time and celebrate milestones such as a kick, a turn, or a scan.
Why rainbow babies are special
Typically, the rainbow appears after the rain or a storm, this symbolizes the importance of the rainbow baby. They come with hope and serve as a symbol of strength that depicts the willingness of parents to try again.
August 22 is National Rainbow Baby day and it gives parents the chance to revisit their experiences, grief their loss, and celebrate their rainbow child. Rainbow babies are special because they bring joy and happiness after a difficult time, reminding parents about the importance of healing, and helping them through the process without even knowing it.