A Response to our Rainbow Delivery | Still Playing School

A Response to our Rainbow Delivery

By Devany | Labels: ,
I was asked to write a letter to our hospital regarding some issues we had during D's delivery.  I am publishing it here as well in the hopes that it may reach other hospitals and families.  Please contact me if you have any further questions or would like to know more about our birth plan and/or experience!


To Whom It May Concern:

In December of 2012, I delivered my “rainbow” baby at (name of facility). A year prior, his sister was also born there and lived 2.5 days, her entire life, at this same hospital. We knew during our pregnancy with her that she would not live long. Anticipating the emotions and triggers that might be present when delivering a new baby after a neonatal loss, I wrote out a detailed birth plan for my son's arrival. In it, I asked that all staff handling our care be aware of our situation so that they would understand why this time was highly stressful. It was not to be a typical birth and delivery. While welcoming our son into the world, our daughter would feel very close. We welcomed that but also knew it would bring up fresh waves of grief. I also knew I wouldn't be up to telling her story over and over again to explain why this was so.

Delivery went well and was uneventful, except for the fact that I immediately started noticing that the nurses prepping me had not read our birth plan. They did not know about our daughter, but then did mention recalling our delivery of her once I brought it up.

In recovery, they noticed that our son was having some breathing issues, most likely due to the c-section. He was able to remain with us to be monitored for this, but throughout our stay his gagging and choking reminded me so much of our daughter's apnea episodes before she passed away. He resembled her at birth which was a gift, but also added to these flashbacks. I was having extreme emotional reactions to watching him struggle even though I knew he was essentially healthy and fine.

I received conflicting instructions from nurses regarding what to do when he was struggling to breathe. Some said to pull the emergency chain, then when we did other nurses seemed put out that we were reacting so severely to routine c-section recovery issues. Clearly, staff was not reading our birth plan. When asked about this, I found out that this was indeed the case. Since we were in recovery, they figured our birth plan was no longer pertinent. From that point on, I asked that each nurse tell the next coming on duty of our story, but again, I feel like this should have been a time when I could focus on my health, my son's, and grieving our daughter instead of informing nurses of our situation.

When we delivered my daughter, we knew she would pass away. The palliative care team at the hospital was superb, helping us prepare, and marking our room and files with a butterfly to signify our special circumstances. I suggest that rainbow deliveries be marked in the same way with a rainbow.

Some nurses also told me that they didn't take grief and bereavement training because they were in couplet care. Once a mother and baby are there, it is because everything is fine. Because of this, these nurses rarely dealt with the still births or fatal prenatal diagnosed babies.

I welcome the opportunity to share our story and experience with staff in the future in order to better educate them about the delicate situation of a rainbow delivery.


  1. I COMPLETELY know what you went through, we had similar responses at our 1st rainbow's birth after our first son was stillborn. Staff made comments about her being our first child, blaming my medical reactions and emotional reactions to having given birth to my first child, when it fact, she was the second child I delivered and they should have known this - if they had simply read my chart... When our other son was born with a fatal diagnosis, even having a birth plan and having had connections within the hospital so all the big wigs knew about our birth and did their best to inform the staff, we still had nurses who had not read it fully, when they should have. It was not a typical delivery, especially because of the fact that we had already previously suffered the death of a child. I'm so thankful your team was so good to you with V and I'm so sorry the team wasn't as informed or considerate when D was born. Every reaction you had was NORMAL for us. ((hugs)) Kudos on letting the staff know what should be done better!

  2. I read this post when you first wrote it but didn't comment. Didn't quite know what to say. But as we prepare for the arrival of our own rainbow I want you to know that I totally used your idea of writing a note about your history on your birth plan. I don't know if anyone will read it either but at least it's something to direct them to. Like you, I want the staff to know but not to have to tell each and every person my history and deal with all of that while I am in labour. Anyway, all this just to say thank you for posting this.