For those of you who know me, you’ll know how much I talk about “rainbow pregnancy”,which is a pregnancy following the loss of a previous pregnancy or child. I have both personal and professional experience with these unique situations and they are both challenging and beautiful at the same time. In one aspect, going through a pregnancy after a loss can really highlight fears and anxieties you have around birth and around your body’s capability of birthing a healthy baby. However on the other hand, there is no more sacred and loving experience then when a new parent finally holds their rainbow baby in their arms - that feeling brings a wave of light over a darker time in their lives. Needless to say, rainbow pregnancy and birth are more complex then an average pregnancy and birth. As a loss mom with two live rainbows, and a birth doula, I want to share with you 3 tips to help get you through a rainbow pregnancy and help prepare you for an empowering birth experience
1. Be Present
After finding out about my second pregnancy (after my first loss), I visited my usual clinic to do some various routine tests and I saw this lovely nurse who will always stand out to my in my memory. She said something to me that carried me through all four of my pregnancies and this piece of advice is one I share with everyone I know who’s just found out they are pregnant after having a previous loss. This advice was to live in the moment, every moment that you are pregnant.
Try not to think about what happened in the past as what’s done is done and nothing you can do now will change that.
On the contrary, don’t obsess over the future as every embryo is different in lifespan. Some babies are meant to be birthed at term, some post and some preterm, and some are only meant to live to 6 weeks, 7 weeks, etc. You can’t ever know how long that baby that is in utero is meant to last, so don’t attempt to predict what the future will hold. Focus on just the present - soak in every pregnancy symptom, every milestone big or small, and never EVER feel bad for fully enjoying your pregnancy even if it doesn’t end the way you’d like it to. Trust me, once I heard this and began to put it into practice, it helped me not to fully get over the children I lost (because you truly never will, and that’s ok) but to process what happened to each of my babies and come to a point of understanding and acceptance
Tip. 2. Connect With Baby In Utero
Whether this is the first baby you’re expecting or your fifth, every single life you create means something. Don’t forget to honour each of those lives and hold space for them for as long as they are with you. Take some time to be alone, away from other family or friends, and allow your consciousness to speak to your unborn baby. Tell them you love them and will always love them no matter how long they stay with you.
Hold them close to your heart (emotionally) and get to know their true spirit. Embracing your time with your baby will make that time really count.
I personally found that while this didn’t take away the pain of losing a baby, this definitely made me cherish the weeks and months I had with the ones I lost. Many of us feel like we “wasted” our joy and compassionate love when we grew attached to babies we went on to lose. But if you reframe your thinking this way and honour the time they spent with you. The grieving process will be a bit more smooth and you can truly say that the short amount of time was spent with complete love.
3. Arm Yourself With Support
Pregnancy after loss almost has an unspoken “club” (and those of you who have had losses know what I’m talking about). Members of this club usually know how to navigate your heart during a rainbow pregnancy but many do not belong to this club and can be triggering in many ways (usually unintentionally, but still triggering nonetheless). Whether people say something insensitive or just simply “fall pregnant” without complication causing you a feeling of resentment, you need people around you to talk to (or vent, not all days are good days) that actually get it. There’s also that hit that a loss survivor takes to their overall confidence and trust in their body. We feel as though our body didn’t do something right or it failed us somehow, and when you’re on this level of thinking then how could your body give you an empowering pregnancy and birth experience if it didn’t do it properly the first time?
This is such a tough thing, because you NEED to trust your body and trust the process. Nothing that you did, intentionally or not, caused you to lose that baby, believe that because it is true
Better yet, have someone around to believe that for you on days when you don’t. So my best suggestion for that all-encompassing support is a doula, and particularly a doula with experience in loss and supporting loss. Hire a doula as early on as you need to instil confidence back into your mind at any stage of pregnancy. We will be there for you to call or text when you’re having a rough day, but more importantly we will be there for you when you go into labour and your moment of “I can’t do this” is enhanced by the previous trauma of pregnancy loss. A doula will remind you how capable you are of birthing this baby, just like each and every other woman with no previous trauma. We will hold your hand and lift you up so that you feel like the powerful goddess you are, and we won’t let you fall into a dark place during one of the most powerful times of your life.
Are you a loss parent?
I’d love to hear any other tips you have for moms to get through a pregnancy after loss. Please feel free to leave them in the comments section below
My husband and I are six weeks in to our lifetime journey of having a child. While preparing for our daughter’s arrival, we purchased a number of sleep options. We had heard from many of our parent friends and family members that their child would refuse to sleep in their crib, or bassinet, and knowing how important sleep is, we decided to be prepared, and have a number of accessible options. One of the items we decided to try was the DockATot Deluxe.
The idea of bed-sharing made us equally anxious.
I am a person who cannot sleep without a blanket and multitude of pillows, and after a few nights of sleeping with my daughter on my chest. We decided to, on the recommendation of a friend, transition her to sleeping in our bed, inside of the DockATot.
That being said, we were fully educated and aware of the sleep safe recommendations, and understood that technically the DockATot does not meet safe sleep recommendations as recommended by the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics).
We encourage anyone who considers letting their child sleep unsupervised in the DockATot to do their research and to make their own independent decision into the best sleep situation for their family.
The Co-sleeping Controversy
Prior to the birth of my daughter, I was avidly against co-sleeping and bed-sharing for safety reasons. However, reality hit hard after her arrival and I discovered that my new baby would not sleep anywhere other than in my arms or bed. I was frequently breastfeeding to establish milk supply, and my sleepy newborn required mother assisted wakeups. She would scream and cry anytime she was left in her bassinet, and soon I found myself too tired to handle her care. Having her in my bed helped all of us have a better sleep, and frank discussion within my 200-member strong pregnancy turned parenting group revealed that almost everyone else was co-sleeping as well.
The DockATot is lightweight and is easy to bring with you from place to place. I often use the DockATot for supervised naps when I need to be places other than my bedroom. If I am upstairs working at my computer, my daughter and the DockATot come with me. This allows for my daughter to be nearby at all times, even during naps and makes it easy to soothe her during wake-ups.. I find the portability of the DockATot extremely convenient, and plan to bring it with me even for long trips and camping. (Check back in September for my blog post on camping with your baby, in which I will be featuring the DockATot again!)
My daughter slept better in the DockATot than anywhere else. She cannot roll over in it, and the DockATot along with a swaddle, help reduce her moro reflex and reduce nighttime wake-ups. Our first night in the DockATot, my daughter slept six hours straight. This continued until her six week growth spurt and sleep regression, in which she is still getting three hour chunks of sleep. I sleep more soundly knowing that my daughter is beside me, but not directly in my bed.
What I Don’t Love about it
The DockATot comes with a removable cover that can be easily washed and dried when exposed to the inevitable newborn messes of breastmilk, spit up and other bodily excretions. However, the DockATot cover is extremely difficult to replace once washed. I found putting the cover back on my DockATot a two man and two hour job. Something that is even more difficult to do, when you are also trying to take care of a baby.
The DockATot makers recommend the DockATot for use as a changing station. However, at the cost and with how difficult putting a newly washed DockATot cover is. I would never use it to change my baby in. Anyone who has changed a newborn (or any baby for that matter) knows that they love to pee and poo the minute their diaper has been removed, and regardless of whether you have replaced that diaper with a new one. As well, many of the DockATot cover patterns are white, or have white designs in them. Have you ever washed newborn poop out of white fabric? I have, and let me tell you, it’s not pretty.
Co-sleeping is not recommended by the Health Canada or by Alberta Health. Both organizations recommend a flat, firm surface, with no pillows or blankets, and not within an adult bed.
**Disclaimer: Be please aware that we are not promoting any specific sleep situation. I am only detailing my own personal experiences and the things that worked best for our family.
For educational purposes on why some people choose co sleeping and bed sharing, our doula team recommends:
Nighttime Parenting by Dr. Sears
The Family Bed by Tine Thevenin
Sweet Sleep by Theresa Pitman
Sleeping with Your Baby: A Parent’s Guide to Cosleeping
by Dr. James McKenna
Three in a bed by Deborah Jackson
Further educational resources
Safe Sleep Resources from Platypus Media
Where Babies Sleep from the ISIS Infant Sleep Information Source
Guidelines to Sleeping Safe with Infants by James J. McKenna, Ph.D.
Safe Sleep 7: Is it safe to bedshare? is a free handout for parents, produced by La Leche League International
Infant Health Research: Bed Sharing, Infant Sleep and SIDS from the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative
Attachment Parenting International – Infant Sleep Safety
Babies sharing their mothers’ beds while in hospital: a sample policy from the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative
Guideline on Co-Sleeping and Breastfeeding, Clinical Protocol Number 6 from the Academy for Breastfeeding Medicine
AAP Policy Statement: SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Expansion of Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment (Oct. 17, 2011)
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