Parenting after loss?

Understand what a rainbow baby is and what is expected of you while being pregnant.

What is a rainbow baby

What is a Rainbow Baby?

In recent years, when a parent or a family has lost a baby due to neonatal death, stillbirth, or miscarriage but later a healthy baby is born to them, they use the term “Rainbow Baby” to refer to the baby. 

The term also suggests that the baby might help the family or the parents heal after their traumatic and unfortunate experience. The baby becomes a symbol of healing and hope after a dark time like a rainbow after a storm. 

However, along with excitement and relief, some parents or families might feel complex and mixed emotions regarding the rainbow baby.

What is a Rainbow Baby?
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    Rainbow Babies stir up Complex Emotions

    Some parents find themselves feeling guilty or having conflicting emotions like relief and excitement all at once and this is normal. There is nothing wrong with celebrating a new life while grieving for the lost soul and both emotions are valid and by no means are mutually exclusive. 

    Here are some suggestions you can follow that’ll make the grieving process bearable:

    • You can do something or keep something that’ll remind you of your lost baby. For example, you can plant a tree or frame their hands or footprint. 
    • Rainbow baby day is the 22nd of August every year. You can share your story with your loved ones or you can share it online. 
    • There are some local support groups for this situation that you can join since people with similar experiences will be of great help in this scenario.

    What You May Expect When Having a Rainbow Baby

    In 2018, a study revealed the number of pregnant people who experienced some form of anxiety while conceiving a rainbow baby and the percentage was around 26%. However, the percentage is much higher for mothers who have lost their previous child.

    Anxiety While Being Pregnant with a Rainbow Baby

    History may repeat itself – this is the thought that constantly bugs these would-be mothers and having to deal with the grief all over again is understandably painful to think about. 

    For these types of feelings, you’ll need to see a professional or a counselor or you can get help from your loved ones or join a support group (PALS) because sharing those thoughts out loud will help you psychologically. Pregnancy After Loss Support Group which is also PALS helps you via online and offline modes. 

    You can practise breathing exercises to manage stress levels and adopt other beneficial relaxation strategies like meditation. Some exercises are safe for pregnant ladies so you can rely on those to relieve anxiety.

    Rainbow Baby Might Need Monitoring During Pregnancy

    Your doctor may suggest monitoring your rainbow baby depending on the reason why the previous child couldn’t make it. The best thing for you to do is to talk with your healthcare provider since that’ll be different for every would-be mother as individual circumstances vary from person to person. 

    March of Dimes, a patient advocacy group helps parents with making decisions and offering fundamental advice to families who are ready to get pregnant again after the loss of their previous child. 

    Here are the things would-be mothers should check beforehand:-

    • Checkup for preconception 
    • Every day, the intake of 400 mg of folic acid through multivitamins is necessary. 
    • A balanced diet for the mother
    • Being active in some form every day 
    • Illegal drugs, smoking, and alcohol are a big no-no.

    Why don’t some parents like the term “Rainbow Baby”

    Many mothers think that the term “Rainbow Baby” takes away from the value of their baby who is going to come into their life. Some have shared that the term made them feel like they are only having this baby because of their previous unfortunate incident and that if their previous pregnancy was successful then this baby wouldn’t have been born. 

    They do not want to define their baby’s existence with something like this because, in reality, they’ll much rather see their babies just as special even if their birth happened before their previous loss of a child.

    Things to Know when you’re expecting a rainbow baby

    Moline Prak Pandiyan is a health committee member of the March of Dimes North Carolina chapter and she has shared her journey of having a rainbow baby. Moline Prak Pandiyan said that having a rainbow baby completely changed the way she took to the idea of parenting.

    The mindset of eternity and consistent life changes

    When she faced hard times like challenges in day-to-day life after having their rainbow baby, she took a step back to remind herself that the situation could have been much worse. The notion of forever is a lie, the comfort we find in our daily life by thinking that we’ll get to see the faces of our loved ones after we get back from our jobs or the grocery store is also nothing but an illusion. 

    In reality, we have so little time we can dedicate to our loved ones, not knowing when’ll something unexpected happen. So all we can do is love those people around us who make us feel loved as much as possible. Life is hard for sure but at least it’s a little less hard with our family.

    The Approach to Parenting Might be Different For a Rainbow Baby

    Some mothers feel extremely protective of their rainbow babies and want to give them the absolute best of everything which can be a bad approach to parenting a child. Sometimes pregnant mothers see their babies as hope so this pregnancy feels different for them. The morning sickness, regular check-ups, the physical discomfort become less bothersome as the feeling of gratitude takes over.


    Welcoming a rainbow baby into the family can be an emotional process that can be overwhelming to some mothers. So it’d be better if your family members and friends are there to support you. There’ll be various mixed emotions as well so a couple of helping hands is all you need. 

    Remember that healing does not mean that you are forgetting. You’re welcome to keep the lost child as a part of yourself while opening your heart to the new life. Honoring your past and embracing the new change is what you can do to live a life all of your children would have wanted for you.

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