There really are no words to describe the inexplicable pain of pregnancy loss. The hope and excitement that comes with a positive test is suddenly replaced by a bottomless void of sorrow and sadness, anger, and anxiety. And when it happens not once, but twice, it can feel even crueler. But at the end of every storm comes the sunshine — and hopefully a promise fulfilled by the birth of a baby. Not any baby, though, but rather a double rainbow baby. Here’s what the sweet terms means, and how to celebrate this beautiful baby (as well as honor the ones you have lost).
What is a double rainbow baby?
As heartbreaking as a single miscarriage might be, some people experience multiple losses. If you’ve experienced two losses in a row, when you finally do welcome a baby into the world, that child would be considered to a double rainbow baby. “A double rainbow baby is a term used to describe when someone experiences a live birth after two losses,” explains pediatrician Dr. Cherilyn Cecchini. And you don’t have to be the birthing parent in order to welcome a double rainbow baby — a double rainbow baby can also be a baby adopted or born via surrogate, too.
Examples of a double rainbow baby
While the term “rainbow baby” applies to a single pregnancy loss, a double rainbow baby means that there have been multiple miscarriages, stillbirths, or a combination of the two. “If a person experiences two miscarriages or one still birth and one miscarriage, the double rainbow baby term applies in either case if they then go on to have a live birth afterward,” explains Cecchini. “And losses can describe any kind of loss, whether it is a miscarriage, a still birth or death during the infant or newborn period.” To clarify: A miscarriage, is the loss of pregnancy less than 20 weeks of gestation, a PubMed study reports. An estimated 26% of all pregnancies ending in miscarriage, the same study found. Stillbirth, on the other hand, is defined as the death of a fetus at 20 weeks or more of gestation, per the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
8 special ways to celebrate a double rainbow baby
Share your story
Tell others who might be going through pregnancy loss that there can be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Plant something to honor your babies
Whether it’s a tree, a shrub, or even some seeds, putting your hands in the soil can be soothing as you watch your it grow.
Write a letter to your babies
Whether it’s a poem, a letter, or simply a saying, write down how you feel in a journal especially for your babies.
Send a message to the skies
Buy balloons in the color of the rainbow and release them. You can even write a little message on a piece of paper and place it inside.
Make a donation to infertility organizations
That way you can help others who are still on their journey to parenthood, too.
Photograph your baby in rainbow colors
The most visual way to show off your double rainbow baby is by dressing them up in rainbow colors. You might find a sweet rainbow onesie or get some colorful fabric and swaddle them in it.
Go online for National Rainbow Baby Day (August 22) and use the hashtag #NationalRainbowBabyDay to find other parents who might find solace in your story.
Give yourself some quiet time
Soaking up the scent of your sweet baby might feel like a dream come true, but it might also cause you to feel sadness and guilt, too. That’s why it’s important to acknowledge all of your emotions to mourn the babies you lost while still expressing the gratitude you have for your double rainbow baby.
Welcoming a double rainbow baby can be beautifully bittersweet. By remembering the babies who were lost, and being kind to yourself in the process, you’ll be able to step out from the storm with grit and gratitude as you walk into the sunshine once again with your beautiful new baby.
Dugas, C., Slane, V. (2022) Miscarriage, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532992/
Da Silva, F., Gonik, B., McMillan, M., Keech, C., Dellicour, S., Bhange, S., Tila, M., Harper, D., Woods, C., Kawai, A., Kochhar, S., Munoz, F. (2016) Stillbirth: Case definition and guidelines for data collection, analysis, and presentation of maternal immunization safety data, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5139804/
Dr. Cherilyn Cecchini, M.D., a board-certified pediatrician