The “Rainbow Baby” Rainbow Babies, are those born after the loss of a previous child, either due to an abortion during pregnancy, or a death shortly after delivery.
Rainbow baby is a name produced for a healthy baby born after losing the baby due to miscarriage, infant loss, stillbirth or neonatal death. Rainbow babies are often described as ‘miracle’ babies because of their powerful effects that can help parents recover after a loss.
Iris is a rainbow girl. Why rainbow? Because after the storm the sun rises and she was born after the first-born of the family, Gara , died when she was only two days old. His name is part of his history, even if it is by chance.
What is a “Rainbow Baby”
” Where is my little sister? “, He wonders while having breakfast with his mother in the dining room of their house. The little girl speaks naturally about the absence. He learned about the death when he was three years old, today he is five. “He should have known this story because it is part of his identity,” says his mother. ” Where is she? How did she die? I wanted to play with her. Mom, were you very sad when she left? ” She asks and cross-asks.
Although the term rainbow is not scientifically recognized in medical books, this is the name by which children are born after a family suffers the loss of a baby . “I know the concept, it is used more as a representation of hope”, affirms the president of the Spanish Society of Neonatology, Máximo Vento.
For every 1,000 live births, four die in Spain (premature, full-term newborns, with malformations, with congenital diseases, metabolic pathologies, chromosomopathy). Neonatal death reaches up to 44 weeks post conception. ” It is a very good figure in the European context in relation to France, Italy, Germany or Great Britain”, explains Vento . What about fetuses that die before being born? The Spanish Society of Neonatology affirms that “between five or six fetuses of every thousand pregnancies do not present vital signs”.
Tiló is another rainbow child. He is three years old. His name means sun in the African Mandingo language. He is another son who came to illuminate the life of the Gassama Ayra family after the storm of having lost Nuju at 14 weeks of gestation. Sandra Ayra, her mother, was 37 years old when she got pregnant for the first time and the same age when she found out that Tiló, her second child, was on the way. ” Three months passed between one and the other. I felt I didn’t have much time. We looked for it a lot. My partner and I wanted to be parents,” he says. It was not easy. Fear, guilt and grief coexisted with joy and love.
For her the next delivery was “pure love.” A storm of fear tore through his body from side to side. I was trembling. It was hard for him to believe that everything was going to be okay. But when she held him in her arms and looked into his eyes, she breathed in relief. ” Breastfeeding was the most healing feeling ,” he says. Today the little boy does not stop wondering about his deceased brother. “He knows everything that happened. Sometimes he comes with a toy or a gift and he says, ‘This is for Nuju.’
“Anxiety, stress and anguish, that is what families feel,” explains perinatal psychologist Diana Sánchez . Grief over the loss of a baby can be long or short. There are people who need to talk about the subject, who go to grieving groups and others who are more pragmatic who close the story as soon as possible. Controlling emotions is hard. “Each mother or father will get ahead faster depending on the support they have from family, friends or colleagues,” he adds.
You don’t have to substitute one baby for another. The expert adds that “you have to mourn in order to face a new beginning. Grief comes to an end when you integrate this pain into your life. Sadness does not disappear, but you resume your life.” The emotional improvement is also noticed by wanting to be in contact with other children again, because in general, after the loss, mothers and fathers avoid babies, children and even pregnant women.
Pilar Gómez-Ulla and Óscar Quintela are broken parents and rebuilt. They had five children, three died, two survived : Alejandro, the first-born who is 14 years old and Juan, the rainbow, who will be seven in August.
“Camilo, our second son, was doing well, but he was born when he was 29 weeks old, caught an infection and died in our arms,” recalls Óscar. The couple lived in the United States at the time. If life had already dealt a blow to this family, they had to wait for the next . Pilar got pregnant again. Everything was going great. But history repeated itself. “I went into labor early. Maria was born in week 21. She lived 20 minutes. She died with human warmth, in my chest,” says this mother.
” That a life is short does not mean that it has no impact, ” the couple agree. They told Pilar: “You will have more children.” “And if my husband died, they would also have told me: ‘You will have more partners’? Yes, I will have more, but now I’m crying for this one.” Her eldest son fried her with questions: “Did she go without going home? Did she not know that I am waiting for her?” And the fourth life came: “Baby.” That was her name because they never knew if it was a girl or a boy. “We had an abortion in the first trimester.” It seemed that life was taking its toll on the Quintela Gómez family.
The rainbow boy, Juan, arrived so that “love may triumph over fear,” his mother repeats during the interview. ” Am I a rainbow? Because of how beautiful it is or because I like all colors? ” The little boy asks while listening to the conversation in his living room.
The youngest of the family paints colored stones to honor his brothers . “Mom, can I show the journalist the stones?”, She says excitedly, runs to the closet and adds: “This bigger one is for my brother Camilo, this one for Maria and I also made one for the Baby .” Juan wanted to play with them, mainly football, or share the waiting for the tooth fairy because of the teeth that have fallen out. “I am missing five and I have a weaker one,” he admits mischievously. And it shows, because he is an extremely smiling child. “Juan’s postpartum was ambivalent. Sweet and bitter. The mothers around me thought of cribs, I in coffins, ” she says and then hugs her son tightly for the photo report.
Pilar and Óscar were tied hand and foot. In this battle they would fight together. They rowed against thick and thin despite the forecasts. “The first support is that of your partner,” says the psychologist . “If there is an accompaniment to the rhythm of the other there is no problem, but many times it happens that they live it out of phase and that brings problems,” he adds.
The “Rainbow Babies” are those born after the loss of a previous child, either due to an abortion during pregnancy, or a death shortly after delivery. These children, explains Sabina del Río, a maternity psychologist and director of the Calma center, “come to symbolize that, after the terror and darkness left by a storm, something beautiful comes with light and color. Its existence is closely linked to the rain. There is no rainbow without having previously had no rain.
The “Rainbow Babies”
When this happens, it is important that the existence of the lost previous child is not denied, says Del Río: “Even if it has not been born, for some parents it will always be their child. That it is part of the family history, even that it may appear in the family book and in the Civil Registry. He is a son who did exist for the parents and who must have his identity, name and place in the family.
For those who experience the loss of a baby, the birth of a rainbow baby is a time of tremendous joy and recovery.
Rainbow baby is a name produced for a healthy baby born after losing the baby due to miscarriage, infant loss, stillbirth or neonatal death.
Rainbow babies are often described as ‘miracle’ babies because of their powerful effects that can help parents recover after a loss. However, rainbow pregnancies can experience strong feelings of anxiety, guilt, and even fear.
Honoring a dead baby while celebrating a healthy baby can create conflicting feelings in the mother. The exact number of rainbow babies born each year is unknown.
What awaits pregnant women who will have a rainbow baby?
If you are expecting a rainbow baby, here are some things you can experience:
Rainbow pregnancies are often emotionally complex and include feelings of grief and guilt along with relaxation, excitement, and joy.
It is important during this period to get the support of your spouse, consult medical professionals, and connect with others who are experiencing a loss.
Women who experience infant loss are at high risk for postpartum depression and anxiety. If this time is difficult, you can work with a counselor or mental health professional to get the help and care you need.
While it may seem impossible to fully recover emotionally from the pain and grief of losing your baby, there are resources to help.
Anxiety is a common emotion for anyone pregnant with a rainbow baby. This is normal and understandable. You may want to reach out to friends, family members or a support group. You can also work with a counselor or mental health professional on ways to manage your anxiety. For example, journaling can be useful for jotting down your feelings and emotions. Self-care is also important when pregnant with a rainbow baby.
Remember: Grief can be exhausting and even while waiting for more. During this time, ask your friends for the help you need.
Watching the rainbow baby
Your doctor will advise you on what tests they will do during your pregnancy. Careful monitoring will allow you to bring your rainbow baby into the world in a healthy way.
Counting your baby’s beats is one way to monitor their health at home. Counting kicks is important because a change in the third trimester is often the first sign of distress. You can count your baby’s beats at the same time each day, starting at around 28 weeks. Knowing what is normal for your baby can be comforting.
The question of the name
Years ago, recalls the expert from Calma, “when there was much higher infant mortality, it was customary for women to become pregnant shortly after their children died. They were urged not to talk about it, to forget about it and even that if the new child coincided in sex, they should be given the same name.
Getting pregnant soon and calling him the same as the dead brother, confirms Diana Sánchez , also a perinatal psychologist, author of the book “Goodbye Baby” and founder of the Spanish Association of Perinatal Psychology , “it was very frequent in the time of our grandparents and grandmothers and Although I see it less and less in consultation, it is important to make couples understand it. Moreover, it is the key: the new baby does not come to replace the old one. He is a new baby, with a new life, and a story that is already marked by the loss of a previous baby in his family. Giving it the same name can be confusing for everyone, and it can indicatethis desire for substitution that we should insist cannot be the goal of the new birth ».
On the other hand, in the psychological aspect, Sánchez points out, “and although here we enter the scope of the non-explicit, the emotional burden we give to a baby, naming him after his deceased brother, can be understood as not something pleasant not easy to assimilate, when once he is older he understands what has happened.
Allow time to pass before the new pregnancy
Nowadays, and although sometimes it still happens, Del Río acknowledges, all this has changed a lot. “Today we know how inadvisable this practice was, both for the parents and for the next sibling. In fact, there is another aspect in which to influence, and it is the time that must be allowed to pass before the new pregnancy. Now, this therapist continues, we mental health professionals insist on the need for these women to wait at least six months before becoming pregnant again. With less than five months between the two situations, the risk of having a pathological bereavement increases notably, with the consequent increase in the probability of psychological difficulties in pregnancy and postpartum.
In any case, Sánchez specifies, “it will depend on each person, their resources to face it, their social support, the mother’s physical and psychological health … Although in other duels it is said that the time is approximately one year . I would say that in this case it could be a reasonable time, but I repeat that it must be adapted in each case. In a pathological grief, for example, it may be longer than recommended. Contrary to what some family and friends advise, the sooner the better not, when it is appropriate for the mother, yes.
Elaborate the duel, necessary
The pain over the loss of a child, Sabina del Río warns, “cannot be denied, nor can it be postponed, it is something that unfortunately must be passed through.” The objective of the next pregnancy being spaced, he explains, «is that the new child can come as free as possible, without burdens or expectations to meet due to the fact of coming after a” star baby. ” That the new son has his identity for himself, not that his existence is only linked to the death of his brother, and thus becomes a “replacement or replacement son” ».
If the time necessary for parents to mourn is respected, says Del Río, “they will be able to wish a new child for themselves, not to” fill in the void “left by their brother.”
The reality is that, depending on the circumstances of the baby’s death, the next pregnancy can be full of fears and fears that it will happen again. It is the case, points out the director of Calma, “that many women in this situation do not want / can be linked with the new baby for fear that the situation will repeat itself and they spend the pregnancy blocked without being able to connect with their child” . If this is detected, this expert recommends consulting with a specialist in perinatal psychology. «This person is the one who can help distinguish both experiences and will put all this anguish and fear to work. This way they will at least be able to be calm and gradually connect with the illusion of expecting a baby and thus avoid confusion between one child and another.