Let’s talk about pregnancy after loss and how that emotional stress impacts your rainbow baby’s development.
It has been said that experiencing pregnancy loss is simultaneously being scared of never getting pregnant again and also being scared that you will.
After having a miscarriage, your mind is no longer fixated on what gender you’re having, daydreaming about how you will decorate the nursery, or planning a fun way to tell your family.
Instead, you just pray that you will hear a heartbeat at the doctor’s visit, anxiously hope that you’ll make it out of the first trimester safely, and doubtfully wonder if you’ll ever get to hold them in your arms.
Losing a child is one of the most heart shattering, devastating experiences that I wish on no one. Unfortunately, it is the story for 1 in 4 women. My wife was that one.
In between our daughters Karen and Honora, we lost our son Isaac at 18 weeks. We grieved and grieved, but time doesn’t always heal; it’s a hardship that alters you forever.
When we conceived Honora, we were of course overjoyed to get pregnant again and have the honor of carrying another child. But we knew that a positive pregnancy test wasn’t the finish line. Instead of shouting with glee, or sighing with relief, we held our breath for nine months. The worry, stress, and fear that we would experience the same devastation and grief all over again never left our minds for a second the entire pregnancy.
My wife and I were in a constant state of stress. From one doctor’s visit to the next, and throughout every trimester. Are we going to hear the heartbeat? Are her tests going to come back okay? Are we going to make it out of the first trimester? Is our baby still growing? Should we not get our hopes up? Is the same thing going to happen as our last pregnancy? Am I ever going to get to hold it in my arms?
“Rainbow babies” are what we call babies conceived after a loss. In the analogy, the baby is the beautiful rainbow following the storm of a previous miscarriage. However, this isn’t the only storm our precious rainbow babies will have to face–in fact, it is usually just the beginning of a series of storms…
As a certified pediatric chiropractic expert who has done thousands of hours of pediatric training and research, what we know is that everything a mother feels emotionally during pregnancy, so does the baby. So our sweet rainbow babies have an extra stressful start to life.
As a baby is being knit together, emotional stress during this time has a huge impact on development. The first trimester is when all of their organs and body parts are forming. Then in the second trimester, they're developing. And in the third trimester, the baby gets bigger to prepare themselves for birth and life outside the womb. Each external stress during that time has a huge impact on how that baby is developing.
The nervous system is the first system that a baby develops; it starts forming at just 4 weeks, when your baby is the size of a poppyseed! But when the developing nervous system is exposed to stress, it has to alter how it is developing. Because of all the stress a baby is exposed to, their nervous system gets built through a lens of stress.
And as we mentioned previously, this is just the beginning of the storm (what we call “The Perfect Storm”), a cascade of events throughout a child’s life that lead to health challenge after health challenge. A stressful conception and pregnancy is just the first stressor, which then leads to a stressful birth: interventions, the use of forceps or a vacuum, or a C-section. We see that these babies with birth trauma are the same babies that have latching difficulties, colic, reflux, digestive issues, and sleeping troubles. These babies then turn into toddlers who get put on rounds and rounds of antibiotics, contract recurrent ear infections, and have speech challenges. These toddlers turn into kids with asthma, allergies, focus challenges, behavior challenges, and even eventually autism. Because kids don’t grow out of things, they grow into things.
So what is the solution here? Is my rainbow baby, the child that I cried so many tears for and prayed so hard for, doomed to a life of chronic health challenges?
But the fact of the matter is, you and your rainbow baby need extra care for your nervous systems in the face of all this stress. It is extra important that our precious rainbow babies and their mamas build adaptable, healthy, resilient nervous systems.
There are so many things that you can do to help prepare your body to conceive a rainbow baby that is vibrantly healthy and thriving.
If you are currently pregnant, there are so many things you can do to ensure the most optimal communication between you and your baby to prepare for a beautiful birth.
If you are pregnant and want to better manage your stress, have an amazing birth of your dreams, and give your baby an easeful start to life, download our Empowered Birth Guide!
If you are currently grieving the loss of a child, we see you, we are praying for you, and we are sending you so much love. We are honored to walk alongside women who have angel babies and help them conceive their rainbow babies in our office in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.