Why I Hate the Term Rainbow Baby

And why I won't be using it if/when I get pregnant again.

A child conceived after pregnancy loss is often referred to as a Rainbow Baby. I actually don't know where this term comes from, but I'd guess it alludes to seeing something bright and positive in the aftermath of a storm.

Here's why I hate it:

Calling a child a Rainbow Baby alludes to the fact that this new kid is at the same time more special, yet less desired than the first child conceived.

It puts a new emphasis on the new child, making her seem more important than her predecessor, while at the same time underlining the fact that there was a pregnancy before hers -- and that the previous pregnancy was the most desired one.

It instantly puts the new child in the shadow of a person they'll never get to meet, while deemphasizing the loss of that person by refocusing the attention on the miracle of newness. It makes the second chance seem magical, yet still unsatisfactory.

All children are worth loving. I never felt a deep connection with my first pregnancy -- probably because so much doubt was cast upon it from the beginning -- but that doesn't mean that the pregnancy wasn't wanted, important, and precious to me. If I'm lucky enough to get pregnant again, I feel no need to give special meaning to it simply because of a loss I experienced before it. This new pregnancy is just as desired, and just as special.

I hope that in the future, should I become pregnant again, you'll honor my choice and not refer to my child as Rainbow. As I've mentioned in previous blog posts, the concept that brings me the most comfort is imaging this new potential pregnancy as an extension of the first one. As in, "I was first pregnant with you in June, and now I'm pregnant with you in December." Perhaps this idea is just as illogical, definitely more far fetched, and completely not science-based, but it is what feels right to me now. Maybe when I do fall pregnant again, I find a new recognition of how truly different these pregnancies and babies are... but for now that's why I feel comfortable with and comforted by.

I love everything rainbow... except for this term.

How do you feel about the term Rainbow Baby? Does it bring you comfort? Have you used it? I'd love to open up a conversation about this, because, of course, this term appeals to many people, and I'd love to gain deeper understanding as to why.

5 comments

  1. Personally I agree. I think it puts some unnecessary pressure on the child. That said, I have often heard it used for a healthy child born after a previous stillbirth, and I definitely can't comment on that kind of trauma.

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  2. I feel so similarly. I didn't have the words .... But calling Kellen a rainbow baby seemed to sound like a replacement or better than Ailin our baby that died in utero. Thank you for your words!

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  3. I can’t stand that term. I dealt with many years of failed pregnancies and infertility and I would never belittle my daughter for finally being my first born and my son to be in a few weeks as well. Also, I can’t stand how rainbows are being used for so many different things.

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