What is a Rainbow Baby?

A rainbow baby is the beautiful name given to a baby born after a miscarriage, infant loss, stillbirth, or neonatal death. For parents who have suffered a loss, the birth of a rainbow baby can feel like such a miracle and bring an extra dose of overwhelming happiness, joy, and relief. 

The rainbow symbolism

Why do we call them rainbow babies? Because of the symbolism of a rainbow appearing in the sky after a storm or dark and turbulent time. Jennifer Kulp-Makarov, M.D., FACOG told Parents.com, “It’s called a rainbow baby because it is like a rainbow after a storm: something beautiful after something scary and dark.” She adds, “It’s an extremely 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.”

Rainbow babies are often referred to as ‘miracles’ because they have tremendous healing power for parents who have been through a loss. Not only that, but rainbow babies prove that a healthy pregnancy is possible and reassure parents that the previous loss was not due to any fault with them. Pregnancy loss can come with a lot of self blame and doubt, so having that reassurance of a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby can be incredibly healing. 

Expecting a new baby after a loss? It’s ok to have mixed emotions

Rainbow pregnancies can be really difficult. You want to celebrate this new life you’re bringing into the world, but you also worry about another loss. Each kick and healthy checkup brings you joy and relief, but you still think about the baby you lost. You may even feel guilty, like you’re replacing the baby you lost with this new life. It’s okay. You can love and honor the life you never got to meet and still celebrate the life growing inside of you. While these months may be challenging, know that it’s okay to sit with both overwhelming joy and overwhelming fear. 

Healing doesn’t mean forgetting

Chances are you will never forget the baby you lost. Healing does not mean forgetting. Just because a new baby has entered into your life does not mean that the previous loss is diminished in any way. But see if you can honor the lost baby through the new baby. Thank them for preparing your womb for this new life. And as you love and celebrate this new life you’re bringing into the world, you can still talk to, cry for, and send your love to the life that you never got to meet. You’re still their Mama, too. 

The light at the end of the tunnel

The rainbow baby represents the light at the end of the tunnel. They represent gratitude and possibility. So, if you’re getting ready to welcome a rainbow baby into the world, celebrate. Even if you’re afraid, allow yourself to celebrate this new life. And know that your love for them will not replace the love you have for the baby you lost.   

What is a sunshine baby?

A sunshine baby is a baby whose birth occurs prior to a miscarriage, stillbirth, or other natural-cause loss of an infant or child early in his/her life.

What is a double rainbow baby?

A double rainbow baby is a baby whose birth occurs after two natural-cause losses of infants or children early in their life. The loss of two infants from miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, or other related cause happens prior to the birth of a double rainbow baby.

Why do they call it a rainbow baby?

The term “rainbow baby” refers to the occurrence of a rainbow following a storm. The symbolism of a rainbow signifies a positive or hopeful life event following the loss of an infant.

How long after a miscarriage is a rainbow baby?

There is no exact length of time following a miscarriage that indicates a baby is or is not a rainbow baby. The experience of giving birth to a rainbow baby following a previous loss is a subjective and personal experience, including the emotions and timeline associated with both the loss of an infant and the arrival of a rainbow baby.