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Rainbow Baby: What It Means & What To Expect

Rainbow Baby: What It Means & What To Expect

Welcoming a rainbow baby into the world is filled with so many emotions. Here's what to expect and how to prepare.

Written By

Nicole Kainz

Instructor
March 30, 2022

Families who have experienced pregnancy or infancy loss have often said they felt alone, ashamed, or confused about the situation. Or, if they go on to have a baby after loss, they have been left to process mixed emotions with little help—if any. 

Thanks to social media though, and ease of communication with people all over the globe, these parents finally have a way to connect with others who have gone through this experience or are currently dealing with it. With this connection, the term “rainbow baby” has become a popular way to celebrate the baby born after the loss of a pregnancy

It may feel overwhelming if you are expecting a rainbow baby, but it doesn’t have to be. 

This article will discuss what a rainbow baby is and how they differ from other baby terms. We will also discuss what it may feel like to be pregnant with a rainbow baby and work through emotions that occur for many parents. 

In addition, we also talk about what it may be like to welcome your rainbow baby, and ways to honor and celebrate your angel baby. Finally, we offer ways to support a loved one welcoming a rainbow baby

What Is a Rainbow Baby?

You may have heard the term “rainbow baby” from friends or social media and wondered what it means. A rainbow baby is a baby that is born after loss. This loss can be a miscarriage, stillbirth, ectopic pregnancy, or infant loss. A rainbow baby can also be an adopted child. 

Like a rainbow comes after a storm and brings color and beauty, so does a rainbow baby. Miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss is a very traumatic experience for expecting parents. If the time comes to become pregnant again, they may feel hopeful again too. 

Is a Rainbow Baby Different Than an Angel Baby or Sunshine Baby?

There are other terms for babies, like angel baby or sunshine baby. These babies are different from rainbow babies

  • An angel baby is a baby lost during pregnancy or soon after birth. 
  • A rainbow baby is a baby born after an angel baby
  • A sunshine baby is a baby born before a loss or an angel baby

There are other terms surrounding pregnancy loss. A baby born after a rainbow baby is often called a golden baby or a pot of gold. A sunset baby is a twin who passes during pregnancy and a surviving twin is often called a sunrise baby. 

While these terms are often thought to bring peace and comfort to grieving and expecting parents, it is important to ask what they would like to call their little one.

How Does It Feel To Be Pregnant With a Rainbow Baby?

Pregnancy can come with a lot of excitement and tension, but these feelings may be magnified when you are pregnant with a rainbow babyThere is no right way to feel if you are pregnant with a rainbow baby.

You may be still mourning the loss of your angel baby while at the same time feeling excitement for the miracle baby growing inside you. You may also fear that you will experience the same loss with this baby as you have in the past.

It is also common to be hyper-aware of your feelings during pregnancy after such a devastating experience.

What Can You Do To Ease Your Worries While Pregnant With a Rainbow Baby?

Between 50% and 80% of women who have experienced a miscarriage will become pregnant again. Of those women, the risk of developing feelings of restlessness, or strong feelings of overwhelm, during the first trimester is much higher than those who have not experienced pregnancy or infant loss

There are ways to help ease your worries while pregnant with a rainbow baby. It is unlikely that all your fears disappear entirely, but finding ways to reduce them may help you be more present during pregnancy and after your newborn arrives.

Talk to Someone

One of the best things you can do if you are experiencing a lot of worry during your pregnancy after loss is talk to someone. You can talk to a friend who has experienced what you are going through, your partner, a family member, or even a therapist.

A doula or midwife may also be especially helpful for someone who is mourning a loss or expecting a rainbow baby. They have experience in supporting families physically and emotionally during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. Many doulas and midwives are also trained in assisting parents move past the grief of loss through a listening ear, compassion, helpful tools, and calming guidance.

If you find yourself worrying about specific things you are feeling or not feeling during pregnancy, reach out to your OB/GYN. They should understand and acknowledge your fears and help guide you through your pregnancy.

Meditate

Another way to help ease your fears is by practicing meditation. Meditation may help promote emotional positivity and stability during pregnancy. Use the methods of meditation that are specially designed to ease feelings of tension, fear, and guilt during pregnancy. You can also try a meditation ritual that focuses specifically on rainbow babies.

It’s okay to feel multiple emotions at once. You can mourn the loss you have experienced and celebrate the new baby growing inside of you. Meditation may be able to help you work through these feelings. 

Exercise

In most cases, moderate exercise during pregnancy is safe. Exercise gives you more energy and helps you maintain a healthy weight. It may also help reduce feelings of restlessness and fear. 

Exercise may be the last thing you want to do when your mental health is struggling, especially while pregnant. The good news is you don’t have to start running marathons—or even run. Try incorporating simple exercises like walking, swimming, riding a stationary bike, or low impact aerobics. 

Celebrate Pregnancy Milestones

For some, it may be challenging to connect with their pregnancy after loss. One way you can feel closer to this baby is by celebrating pregnancy milestones. 

These milestones can be the beginning of a new trimester, telling loved ones you are pregnant, reaching your first few weeks of pregnancy, the first ultrasound, or your first purchase for your baby. Celebrating these joys of pregnancy may help you ease your worries, connect with this pregnancy, and feel gratitude

What Is It Like To Welcome a Rainbow Baby?

The birth of a rainbow baby girl or boy can bring a lot of emotions. You may feel immense joy, grief, excitement, guilt, happiness, sadness, hope, and fear. There is no right or wrong emotion. 

If you are struggling with difficult emotions, it is best to reach out and talk to someone—a friend who has welcomed a rainbow baby, a support group, your partner, your doctor, or a therapist. 

How Can You Honor the Loss of Your Angel Baby and Celebrate Your Rainbow Baby Together?

After the birth of your rainbow baby, you may have a desire to do something special to honor the loss of your angel baby while celebrating your new baby. There are many ways you can do this. Here are some suggestions.

Thoughtful Jewelry

If you are looking for a way to keep your babies with you at all times, jewelry may be the right option for you. There are many ways to customize jewelry. 

Necklaces, bracelets, or rings are ways you can honor your angel baby and celebrate your rainbow baby. Depending on your preference, these can be personalized using their birthstone, names, or initials. 

Photography Session

Another way to honor your angel baby and celebrate your rainbow baby is by having a photoshoot. Many parents of a rainbow baby have a special photoshoot full of color. Often they use the rainbow concept of a rainbow as the inspiration for their photoshoot. They may put the baby in the “clouds” at the end of the rainbow, dress them in rainbow colors, or wrap them in a rainbow blanket. 

Look for a photographer who you feel comfortable with or specializes in these photos. You may have a lot of emotion during the photoshoot. Having a photographer understand the importance of these photos and why it means so much to you may help you feel more comfortable. 

Make a Donation

You can honor your angel baby and celebrate your rainbow baby by helping others who will or have experienced the loss and joy you have felt. You can do this by donating to organizations that help mothers through pregnancy and infant loss. There are also organizations that support mothers’ mental health. Helping other mothers get the support they need is a beautiful way to share the love of your baby with others. 

Plant a Tree

Planting a tree in your yard is another way to honor and celebrate your babies. Not only will you have a place you can go to remember your angel baby, but as your rainbow baby grows, you can bring them there and tell them all about their brother or sister. Nurturing the tree may also help you grieve your angel baby

If you do not plan on staying in your home for the long-term or if you do not have a yard, you can also plant a tree that is able to grow in a pot. You can take your plant with you as you move. 

Share Your Story

Unfortunately, many women experience pregnancy or infant loss, yet the conversations around these tragedies are limited. Writing your story down may allow you to process your feelings of the loss of your angel baby and the birth of your rainbow baby

If you feel inspired, you can share your stories with others experiencing similar life events, so they won’t feel alone. If you do not want to share your story, that is okay too. 

You can write down your story in a journal and save it for you and your family. You may want to share your story with your rainbow baby when they are older, and writing it down can help you remember the little details. 

How to Support a Loved One Who Is Expecting a Rainbow Baby

If you are the friend or family of a parent expecting a rainbow baby, you may be wondering how to help them through this process. The first thing you can do is learn more about what a rainbow baby is and how they may be feeling. 

Once you understand more about what they may be going through, you can support them in different ways. Here are some suggestions, depending on how close you are to the person and what type of support they prefer. 

Respect Their Wishes

The very first thing you can do when it comes to loss support and rainbow babies is to respect their wishes—ask what they need. If they communicate that they don’t want to talk about what they are going through, it is essential to respect that. 

Should they change their mind, they will let you know. 

Once they are open to communicating or more support, you can find ways to provide that to them. Remember, this may be a time filled with many different emotions, so if they change their mind, it is important to respect them. 

Give Them Space

Some parents need space during the pregnancy and birth of a rainbow baby. They may want to take this time to process their own emotions. They may need to both grieve the loss of their angel baby and celebrate the birth of their rainbow baby

If this sounds familiar, the best thing you can do for them is give them the space they need. When they are ready, they will let you know. 

Offer a Shoulder to Lean On

If your loved one prefers to have their village close to them during the pregnancy and birth of their rainbow baby, you can offer a shoulder to lean on. Listen to their feelings, sit with them through their anxieties, and celebrate the exciting milestones they experience. 

Help Them With Responsibilities

Do you have time to offer a hand with the chores, shopping, or other household maintenance? Go to your loved one with a plan on how you can help them and take over some of their load. Even if it is just temporarily.

Can you come every week to clean their bathrooms? Are you available to take them to their appointments? Can you help make their large monthly or bi-monthly grocery trip? Whatever you are able to do, let them know and see if it works for them. 

Asking someone who is already overwhelmed, “what can I do for you?” adds another layer of stress. More often than not, people who are overwhelmed don’t even know who to ask for the help they need. By bringing them a plan to help, they may be more likely to accept it. 

Send a Rainbow Remembrance

If you are unsure of what to do for your loved one, and they have opened up to you about their experience—it should not come from anyone else—you could send them a rainbow remembrance. It may be something for the baby—blanket, onesie, stuffed pillow. 

You could also send the parent something—jewelry, picture frame, or an ornament. 

Sending a remembrance will let them know that you are thinking of them and their new addition. It also shows you care without forcing a conversation that they may not be ready to have. 

Conclusion

Welcoming a rainbow baby into the world is filled with so many emotions. It is essential to work through these emotions through meditation, exercise, talking to a loved one or therapist, leaning into the pregnancy loss community, and celebrating pregnancy milestones like hearing the baby’s heartbeat. There are also ways to honor the loss of your angel baby and celebrate the birth of your rainbow baby

If you are looking for ways to support someone welcoming a rainbow baby, make sure you respect their wishes no matter what you do. If you are unsure if they want to talk about what they are going through or receive help, ask them. You could also send them a small gift with a rainbow on it. 

No moms should have to experience the loss alone. Expectful is here for you to process and move through your grief and find the light at the end of the tunnel. If the time comes that you are expecting your rainbow baby we will still be here holding space for all of the excitement this time may bring, along with any other emotions you may feel. 

Nicole Kainz
Instructor
Perinatal Writer

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