What to expect when you’re pregnant with your rainbow baby

A rainbow baby is the name given to babies born after a mother has experienced a pregnancy loss. Becoming pregnant after a miscarriage, infant loss, or stillborn baby is anything but easy. While it’s impossible to ever fully recover from the loss of a child, here is what you can expect during this deeply emotional and life-changing experience.

Allow yourself to grieve

Grief is messy, unpredictable, and can take you off-guard at any time. Above all, grief is a uniquely personal journey for every woman who has experienced loss, so try not to compare yourself to others. Be gentle, accept and allow yourself to feel the rollercoaster of emotions without judgement. Feeling intense sadness for the baby you lost, immense excitement about the new pregnancy, and everything in between is all normal. Move through the emotions as they happen.

You may experience feelings of guilt

Feelings that you’re somehow responsible for the loss, feelings of guilt during times of happiness, feelings that you shouldn’t be excited or connected to the new pregnancy—all can hit you hard in unpredictable moments. Remember that pregnancy loss happens for many reasons and is rarely, if ever, your fault. You are allowed to feel sad for the baby you lost whilst simultaneously feeling happy for the baby you’re expecting. It doesn’t mean that you’re being disloyal or that you’ll forget the baby you lost. You might find it helpful to find a way to honour and remember the baby you lost, perhaps through a loving gesture to keep them a part of the family.

Expect that you’ll worry 

It’s natural that you’ll be highly anxious during your new pregnancy, but if worry is interfering with everyday activities or prevents you from eating, sleeping, or taking care of yourself or your family, then you need to reach out to your medical provider. Help is there for you to discuss your fears and concerns. (You could also phone the PANDA national hotline on 1300 726 306).

Prepare to feel relieved when passing milestones

Seeing your baby’s heartbeat, moving into the second trimester, or feeling the baby move, will probably result in a huge sense of relief. You may even feel reluctant to connect to the pregnancy until you pass the gestational week of your lost pregnancy. It’s completely understandable to be cautious about connecting to another pregnancy, but if the feelings of disconnection become disruptive to your everyday life, please reach out to your medical provider.

Expect well-intentioned yet hurtful comments

People are generally uncomfortable talking about death, so if comments seem insensitive, it isn’t about you. Sometimes they just don’t know what to say. Instead, you might like to let them know what you need. If you are ready to talk about your loss, you might choose to invite a close friend over to sit with you and listen to your feelings. If people offer to help, take them up on it, whether it’s a meal, or someone to watch your other children.

Continued grief when the baby arrives is normal

No other pregnancy or child can replace the one you lost. As you welcome a new baby, the grief may continue, but embrace those feelings of sadness and anger, just as you will embrace the feelings of gratitude, joy, and excitement.

Be prepared for questions from older children

Children can be a great distraction from grief, but depending on their age and how much you’ve shared, they will probably ask you lots of questions about the loss and the new pregnancy. Their questions might be upsetting, but it’s their way of processing and making sense of it all. If you know the answers, answer them lovingly, or perhaps ask them what they think are the answers.

You’ll discover that rainbow babies are unique

Rainbow babies symbolise hope and renewal. They will teach you lessons you never knew you needed to learn. You will find that you can heal and grow from loss through love. Finally, they’re the biggest reminder that after a dark and scary storm, beautiful rainbows do appear.

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