Like many communities, parenting circles develop specific terms to make communication easier. When you're still learning the lingo, however, this can make for a few moments of confusion. For instance, the term "angel baby" comes up a lot on parenting and conception boards. So what is an angel baby?
According to the Baby Center community boards, an angel baby refers to an infant who passes away during pregnancy or soon after birth. This euphemistic term gives grieving parents a simple way to reference their loss. Along with rainbow babies (or children conceived after a loss, as noted on Romper), angel babies hold special significance for their parents.
Although loss is a difficult experience for everyone, angel babies can include a particular set of challenges. As noted on What To Expect, a miscarriage can induce feelings of grief and guilt, and it's important to feel your feelings during this time. If the pregnancy was not yet announced, you may face an additional sense of isolation.
Additionally, coping with a stillbirth or neonatal death is also heartbreakingly difficult. Although your friends and family are most likely aware of the situation, they may have an especially difficult time knowing how to help you through such grief. And your own emotions are probably all over the place. As explained by the American Pregnancy Association (APA), the experience of leaving the hospital without a baby can be particularly crushing.
With this in mind, it's important for parents of angel babies to have a space to share their emotions. For some parents, holding a memorial service can be healing, as explained by the Mayo Clinic. Visiting support groups, whether in-person or online, can also put these parents in touch with others who are in a similar situation. Professional counseling is also a safe way to cope with the grief associated with this loss.
If your loved one is coping with the loss of an angel baby, then there are a few things you can do to help them feel supported. As noted in Parents, simply listening to your friend, and perhaps bringing over a meal, is a thoughtful way to comfort a grieving parent. Acknowledging their loss, as well as the fact that their baby did exist, is especially kind. To their parents, angel babies are as loved as any child.