August 22nd is National Rainbow Baby Day, a day to celebrate rainbow babies, commemorate those infants lost, and support parents at all stages of the fertility journey. First started in 2018, this day is a good time to reflect on what Rainbow Babies represent and how we talk about infant loss and the fertility journey.
What Is a Rainbow Baby?
A rainbow baby is a healthy baby born after losing a baby, which may happen for various reasons, including miscarriage, infant loss, stillbirth, or neonatal death. Rainbow babies are symbols of hope, strength, and love—but often they’re also the result of a fertility journey, which can be filled with uncertainty, fear, and pain.
The national miscarriage rate is 18.6%, meaning almost one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage. Prevalence doesn’t lead to acceptance, however. Losing a baby can be one of the hardest experiences a person can go through.
Celebrating Love, Remembering Loss
“A lot of people I’ve talked to say they want to remember the baby they lost because that baby is a part of their family,” shares Lissa Kline, Progyny’s senior vice president of Provider and Member Services. “I also know how common pregnancy loss and stillbirth are, and they’re only recently being talked about publicly. I think celebrities like Chrissy Teigen have helped by sharing their own stories. Previously, people suffered in silence and isolation. I think Rainbow Baby Day accomplishes both of these in a very special way—a person can remember the baby they lost, and others can see that they’re not alone in their own experience. For those reasons, it’s such a special day.”
Progyny’s vice president of Sales Amanda Lesesne knows from experience the difficult and sometimes devastating fertility journey that comes before a rainbow baby. She thinks about this journey on Rainbow Baby Day. “You want to celebrate the life of children born after loss, that’s what the day is for,” she explains. “But in the world of infertility, it can be painful for those who are navigating infertility, who haven’t achieved that success. As a person who has navigated this long fertility journey, I’m very conscientious of that because I didn’t think we’d be that success story.”
Lesesne adds that it’s important to remember the many facets of this day. There’s love and celebration, strength and perseverance, hope and loss. “A lot of people are hoping that they’re going to get through to that rainbow,” she states. “They’re hoping for that, and it’s important to acknowledge not only those who’ve had a rainbow baby, but those that haven’t.”
Rainbow Baby Day in the Workplace
Rainbow Baby Day is part of this acknowledgment, and, though difficult, these conversations about infertility are important. It might feel particularly difficult to discuss rainbow babies and the painful journeys that precede them in the workplace. Kline has some great advice on how a manager can support an employee who’s gone through a miscarriage:
- Be a manager where a direct report feels safe and comfortable talking to about this topic. Maybe it’s as easy as mentioning this day in your next team huddle and offering support to anyone who may be going through this.
- Offer team members time and space. Make sure they know work can be removed from their to-do lists to give them time to grieve. Some team members may feel the distraction of work is helpful, and that’s okay, too.
- Make sure they know how to access resources available to them. This includes leave, behavioral health, and fertility benefits (like Progyny) to make sure they are getting the medical attention they need. Leveraging a connected health navigation system like Castlight, which promotes the right programs and care to the right people at the right time, can help.
- Continue to check in with them and let them know they have your support. Sometimes that looks like a card, a flower delivery, or a meal gift card. At the end of the day, most people want to know that you support them and that they are valued and cared for.
- Offer bereavement leave for employees who experience a pregnancy loss or stillbirth. This shows the value the organization places on the family building journeys.
How to Commemorate Rainbow Baby Day
The family building journey can be lonely—and even those closest to someone who has experienced such a loss may not know what to say or do to comfort them. But avoiding it altogether isn’t the answer. Communication, comradery, enlightenment, education, hope, and even simple acknowledgment are things that can help those going through a journey, those who have experienced infant loss, and those who are hoping for their rainbow baby.
This post was contributed by Castlight Ecosystem partner Progyny.
Progyny is a leading fertility benefits management company. They are redefining fertility and family building benefits, proving that a comprehensive and inclusive solution can simultaneously benefit employers, patients, and physicians. Their benefits solution empowers patients with education and guidance from a dedicated Patient Care Advocate (PCA), provides access to a premier network of fertility specialists using the latest science and technologies, reduces healthcare costs for the nation’s leading employers, and drives optimal clinical outcomes. Progyny envisions a world where anyone who wants to have a child can do so.