Around the world, October is recognised as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. And while my content is usually created for the babies who continue their journey in this world, as someone who contributes to that 1 in 4 statistic, it’s important to me to acknowledge the unique experiences of parents raising children after experiencing pregnancy or infant loss.
If you’re a parent who has experienced this loss in the past, you’ll be no stranger to the term “rainbow baby”—given to the children who survive following a miscarriage.
In my years as a paediatric nurse, I have worked with countless parents experience infant loss and/or diagnosies that require lengthy stays in hospital for the baby. I have seen first hand the effect that has on a parent and how it impacts their confidence in parenting. Sending those parents out into the world, while knowing the gap between the support of nurses in the hospital and midwives who conduct home visits, can be incredibly hard.
The grief and anxiety of experiencing a loss, and the struggle for control that comes with following pregnancies is not only a very real experience, but it’s one that can carry over beyond pregnancy and affect parents in all aspects of baby raising, including sleep.
Anxieties over leaving your baby to sleep alone, rushing to the cot with every noise, the constant checking and always feeling on-edge. It’s completely understandable given what you’ve been through, and I’m here to respect that level of fear and vulnerability you have for your baby. But it’s also important to know that you are not alone in this, that there are many parents who feel how you feel, and there are resources available to help you through this.
In my work as a sleep consultant, I regularly speak to families with rainbow babies and babies with a history of NICU admissions, and I understand how hard it can be. I bridge that gap between nurses and midwives, providing guidance when it comes to navigating your baby’s sleep and the fear that comes alongside it due to the nuance of your situation.
I am not a social worker and I’m not a grief counselor, but it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge that this is something that impacts my clients and that informs my practice.
If you are a parent of a rainbow baby, know that you are not alone, and that support is here for you if and when you need it.
Support services for pregnancy or infant loss in Australia
If you or someone you know is suffering after the loss of a child, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the support services that are available to you:
Red Nose Grief & Loss Support Services: https://rednose.org.au/page/grief-and-loss-support-services