Rainbow baby

A rainbow baby is a term for a child born to a family that has previously lost one or more children due to stillbirth, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, termination for medical reasons, or death during infancy.[1] These subsequent pregnancies can bring "strong feelings of anxiety, guilt, and even fear" but also "immense joy, reflection, healing, and mixed emotions". The term "rainbow" is symbolic of the hope brought by the child after the emotional storm of the previous loss.[2][3][4]

Research conducted at the University of Michigan establishes that "parental relationships have a higher risk of dissolving after a miscarriage or stillbirth, compared with a live birth", and that the risk is highest for those couples who have experienced a stillbirth.[5]

In the 21st century, such parents seeking to have another child often turn to online support groups for information and encouragement.[6][7]

According to physician Jennifer Kulp-Makarov, "It is an extremely emotional and 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."[8]

Those interested in supporting such families have designated August 22 each year as "National Rainbow Baby Day".[9] Some professional photographers volunteer to take free photos of these babies.[10] In some cases, these are group photographs.[11][12]

Different viewpoints on the termEdit

Although the term rainbow baby is widely used in the pregnancy loss community, some women feel discomfort with the term, each for their own reasons. They might feel the term focuses on the baby's death rather than their real life or they might think that there is no need to put a label that gives this child a special identity or title in relation to their other siblings.[13]


  1. ^ "Stillbirth". medlineplus.gov. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  2. ^ Chertoff, Jane (December 6, 2018). "What Is a Rainbow Baby?". Healthline. Retrieved September 14, 2019.
  3. ^ Kasprzak, Emma (23 February 2017). "Rainbow babies: The children bringing hope after loss". BBC News. Retrieved 15 September 2019.
  4. ^ "Pregnancy after miscarriage: What you need to know - Mayo Clinic". www.mayoclinic.org. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  5. ^ Gold, Katherine J; Sen, Ananda; Hayward, Rodney A. (May 2010). "Marriage and Cohabitation Outcomes After Pregnancy Loss". Pediatrics. 125 (5): e1202–e1207. doi:10.1542/peds.2009-3081. PMC 2883880. PMID 20368319.
  6. ^ "'Rainbow Baby' Photo Captures Grieving Michigan Mom's Emotional Journey Following Miscarriage: 'Knowing I Wasn't Alone Helped'". People. Retrieved September 14, 2019.
  7. ^ "Rainbow Baby: Origin, Meaning, and What It Means to Parents". Healthline. 2018-12-06. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  8. ^ Willets, Melissa. "What It Means to Be a 'Rainbow Baby' and Why Rainbow Babies Are Beautiful: Parents and experts explain why rainbow babies, born after a stillbirth, or neonatal death, are something beautiful after a scary and dark experience". Parents. Retrieved September 14, 2019.
  9. ^ WMTV Staff (August 22, 2019). "Thursday is National Rainbow Baby Day". WMTV. Madison, Wisconsin. Retrieved September 14, 2019.
  10. ^ Johnson, Cierra (August 26, 2019). "Columbus photographer takes photos of rainbow babies free of charge". Columbus, Ohio: WBNS-TV. Retrieved September 14, 2019.
  11. ^ Kalsi, Dal (August 22, 2019). "Upstate mothers gather to celebrate Rainbow Baby Day with special photo". WHNS. Retrieved September 14, 2019.
  12. ^ Ritschel, Chelsea (8 August 2019). "Mothers pose with their rainbow babies in emotional photo shoot". The Independent. Retrieved 15 September 2019.
  13. ^ "Why some parents dislike the term 'rainbow baby'". Retrieved October 17, 2021.