What is a rainbow baby?

The expert: Claudine Schalck, midwife and clinical psychologist

“Rainbow Baby”: This very colorful and poetic name is given to infants born after the previous loss of a child by its parents. An arrival that poses many questions for the parents.

Meaning: what is a rainbow baby and a star baby?

We call “Baby Star” a baby that died. The term “Rainbow Baby” refers to a baby born after the loss of a child by its parents. The term rainbow clarifies this concretelyAfter the rain, the good weather gives birth to a rainbow. After the tragedy of death, hope returns. Despite the grief, life can arise again and this birth can be experienced as a small miracle.

In the video: What is a rainbow baby?

What is a parage?

Just like this baby has a specific name, we call “paranges” Parents who have lost a baby or child. This term combines the words “parents” and “angels”. to name the parents of a child who has become a little angel or a baby star after their death.

If carrying and giving birth is a heartbreaking event for any couple, it is even more so when they have experienced a tragedy like the loss of a baby. Considering pregnancy again requires an inner journey, a grieving process.
Regardless of attachment, grief can progress through the main stages described by the Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in the 1960s: shock and denial, anger, negotiation, depression and pain, and/or acceptance. “Parents need a concrete point of reference to calm down: objects, especially the moments they experienced with the caregivers with whom they shared their baby’s life. It’s hard to break up with someone we’ve lived with a lot in imagination.explains Claudine Schalck, midwife and clinical psychologist, author of “Perinatal Grief: From Birth to Post-Pregnancy,” published by L’Harmattan.

According to the expert, three components are important in order to carry out this mourning work:

The connection of understanding with the existing : to understand that this baby really existed, because we cannot separate ourselves from what did not exist,

The connection with the kinship system : We lost a child registered in a family who had a place there,

The things that existed : real elements, matter (items that belonged to him, memories of photo shoots, etc.).

From this point of view, Claudine Schalck welcomes the fact that parents have been able to pass their surname on to their stillborn child since 2021. This provision helps to facilitate the grieving process.

The bereaved parents go back and forth, a pendulum swing between moments integrating this death, remembering the pregnancy, their baby, calming down, and moments when the idea is not acceptable when the pain is intense.. . « The grieving process is universalbut the work is unique and specific to each », the psychologist slips. Anniversaries are particularly difficult times to live.

Grief: when to consider another pregnancy

There’s no sign it’s a good time to have another baby. It depends on everyone. However, this assumes thatgive a place to the deceased child and to feel able to offer a full place to another baby as well. The rainbow baby is indeed a child like any other, but with a difficult story to take: it is the brother or sister of a child who should have been in the family.
“My professional experience has taught me that wanting another baby after losing a child is common and often overwhelming given the pain. To stop this pain, we must live. With a new pregnancy The grieving begins again and is often fulfilled with the birth of another living baby. And this one does not have to prolong the existence of the other child in order to live his life.emphasizes Claudine Schalck.

Perinatal bereavement: coping well with a new pregnancy

This new pregnancy can bring some worries for the mother-to-be: the fear of re-living a miscarriage, losing her baby… The grieving work is also done during these nine months. « Perinatal grief is not a pathology and do not necessarily need to be supported. But it can be disturbing to relive the same experiences., recognizes the midwife and psychologist. She strongly advises confiding in her midwife in the maternity ward, approaching an association of couples (Naître et vivre, Hespéranges, Agapa, Nos tout petits, Petite Emilie…), talking to a psychologist to share this path and to evacuate the bad memories. This makes it possible to discuss a taboo topic.
We can also focus on what makes these two pregnancies different (how we feel the baby move differently, we have less nausea, etc.). Giving this toddler a nickname or already calling them by their future first name can also help place them and separate these two pregnancies.

Baby or rainbow child: the choice of the first name

On the other hand, it is not advisable to give the rainbow baby’s first name to that of the deceased child. It would only create identity problems. The rainbow baby will have his own story, unlike his deceased brother or sister. What we bought (clothes, baby room furniture, bedding, toys, etc.) it is possible to keep them for the unborn child. What counts, according to the psychologist, is above all the way in which you project yourself onto this new children’s project, if you succeed Separate their storiesto distinguish them. Later, of course, it will be important to speak clearly to the rainbow baby, from that brother or sister who preceded him. Although his life was short, it is part of the family history.

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