Complications & miscarriage

What is a Rainbow Baby? Finding Hope After Losing a Pregnancy.

If you’ve been spending time on pregnancy and fertility forums, you’ve probably come across the term rainbow baby. At first glance, you might have thought that this term refers to the child of hippie parents (nope—that’s rainbow child, something else entirely).

What is a rainbow baby?

A rainbow baby is the term given to a child conceived after a stillbirth or miscarriage. The name conjures the sense of hope you feel when you see a rainbow after a storm.

Miscarriage is a sad but common part of the fertility journey for many women. Pregnancy loss can feel devastating while it is happening, especially because it brings up fears for many women that they will never get pregnant again. But the majority of women who experience miscarriage go on to conceive healthy pregnancies.

What’s different about carrying a rainbow baby?

Every pregnancy is special, but there’s something extra special about carrying a rainbow baby. For mothers who have been through a loss, or even multiple losses, it’s impossible to take pregnancy for granted. Every moment can feel like a gift.

Carrying a rainbow baby can also bring a lot of negative emotions. When you have experienced a devastating lost in the near past, it can lead to pregnancy anxiety—an overwhelming sense that something will go wrong again. Some mothers also feel guilt; while they are overjoyed about the new pregnancy, they don’t want to forget the old one that was lost.

What are my chances of conceiving a rainbow baby?

If you’ve recently been through a loss, you’re probably eager to know what your chances are of conceiving a rainbow baby. The good news is that your chances of getting pregnant again are very good. According to one recent study that followed over 1,000 women, nearly 70 percent of women who started trying immediately after a miscarriage conceived again within three months, as opposed to 51 percent of those who waited longer. Furthermore, the odds of having another miscarriage are significantly lower for women who conceive within the first six months after a loss.

woman in bed

What are some ways to honor my lost pregnancy?

Getting pregnant again doesn’t mean forgetting your loss. Many women want to find some way to honor their loss, and look to traditional cultural practices to help with the grieving process. For example, in Japan, many cemetery paths are lined with small stone statues, called Jizo, meant to honor the souls of babies that were never born. Parents leave toys and snacks at their feet for comfort in the afterlife. In a touching column in the New York Times, one American woman explains how she and her husband ordered a Jizo for their home to help with the grieving process.

Other healing practices include writing a letter to your baby, finding a special piece of jewelry, like a locket or a ring, that honors the lost life, or planting a tree in memoriam.

Lindsay Meisel

Lindsay Meisel is the Head of Content at Ava. She has over a decade of experience writing about science, technology, and health, with a focus on women's health and the menstrual cycle. Her work has been featured on The Fertility Hour, The Birth Hour, The Breakthrough Journal, and The Rumpus.

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