Falling pregnant after a previous miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss comes with a whole host of mixed emotions.
These precious new babies represent hope but can also bring feelings of grief, fear and anxiety.
They are sometimes referred to as ‘rainbow babies’ because they are born after the storm of loss and grief.
As someone who has experienced a couple of pregnancies, after losses, I know the mixed emotions of fear and hope that arise the moment you see a positive pregnancy test.
New Clinic Supports Parents Of Rainbow Babies
For many parents, a rainbow pregnancy involves a ‘counting down’ of pregnancy milestones, and a fear of bonding, because they know a pregnancy doesn’t always mean they will bring a baby home.
In the UK, the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust’s first bereavement midwife, Nick Kerry, has established new rainbow baby clinics at Grimsby Hospital for pregnant parents who have suffered a previous loss.
Rainbow Baby Clinics Offer Hope To Grieving And Hopeful Parents
Women who become pregnant after a loss might not be medically high risk, and they can maintain their regular prenatal care, but for them, the level of emotions involved in a rainbow pregnancy can be complex.
Kerry, knowing the complexities of loss, now runs clinics designed to offer the extra emotional support rainbow parents need.
“Losing a baby can have a massive impact, not only on a mum but on the whole family, as the loss shatters hopes and dreams.
“So when someone falls pregnant again after losing a baby, they are often fearful of the future.
“They constantly worry and often don’t prepare for happiness, just sadness, as they cannot see past their loss”, Kerry says.
Mothers who attend the clinics meet with Kerry at 16, 31 and 34 weeks. They can also contact her between clinic visits, if they need extra support.
The clinics help parents come to terms with the grief of their previous loss, while also making room for the hope and happiness of their current pregnancy.
Kerry says, “Becoming pregnant after the loss of a baby is a daunting prospect as people are often terrified of repeating previous experiences. They feel powerless to prevent it from happening all over again.
“The birth of every baby is special; however a rainbow baby brings new hope. It is such a privilege and honour to be involved in these new arrivals”.
Typically, miscarriages aren’t preventable, which adds to the fear of another loss. The clinic aims to help parents focus instead on the hope of their current pregnancy. Fear and anxiety, left unsupported, can make for a very long full-term pregnancy.
The clinic might not be able to alleviate all anxiety, but the extra support can mean a lot to worried parents.
A Special Gift For Rainbow Parents
Many rainbow parents are afraid of purchasing new items for the baby. Understanding the reality – that a pregnancy doesn’t always mean bringing home a new baby – can be a sobering thought.
But every pregnancy is unique. Having one loss, or even several, doesn’t mean parents should worry about another. Understandably, though, many parents do.
Each rainbow baby receives a special gift from the clinic. It’s special for the babies, but also a much needed reminder to the parents that rainbow babies bring hope and joy into a grieving family.
The Health Tree Foundation supports the new rainbow baby clinics, and ensures each baby receives a rainbow basket, filled with baby suits, vests, nappies, cotton wool, and a rainbow blanket and hat.
Not only is the gorgeous blanket a special reminder of the beauty of the child’s birth, the practical items in the basket make sure parents have a few basics, especially if they had been hesitant to stock their nursery before the baby’s arrival.
What Does This Clinic Mean For Parents?
As the mama of a few rainbow babies, I know how difficult the pregnancies can be. We have lost the innocence of simply enjoying each stage of pregnancy, in the fear of experiencing another loss.
A clinic like this can help parents manage the grief of their previous loss so it doesn’t become all-encompassing during the current pregnancy.
One couple shared their experience of working with Nick Kerry during a particularly difficult pregnancy, where one twin passed away in utero, while their rainbow baby continued to grow.
Mags Guest, of Grimsby, said, “When we discovered, at 23 weeks pregnant, one of our baby girls had died, we were beyond devastated.
“What followed was weeks of worry and uncertainty. In the midst of all of this we were referred to Nick and her rainbow clinic.
“As it turned out, our children had other ideas as they came five weeks early and rather fast. Thanks to Nick, I was able to process the magnitude of what had happened and the fact that I welcomed both of my girls into the world, but we only took Evelyn home.
“I want to say thank you to Nick and all of the staff for their wonderful care and compassion. I don’t know how I would have got through the last few months without Nick”.
Pregnant with your rainbow baby?
We recommend reading Pregnancy After Miscarriage: 5 Ways It Can Feel Different.