My name is Emilie, and I’m a lead specialist midwife at the Tommy’s Rainbow Clinic in Manchester.
The clinic was set up in 2013 and gives specialist care and support to parents who’ve been through baby loss before. As part of my role, I do a whole host of things, from early pregnancy appointments, to birth plans, to appointments between scans for those who need extra reassurance.
Another exciting part of my job at the moment is helping other hospitals across the country to open their own rainbow clinics just like ours. This means more families who've been through loss can get the support they need when trying for their rainbow baby.
Here in Manchester, we have people who travel from hundreds of miles away to visit us regularly. By supporting more hospitals in opening their own clinics - we hope one day there will be one in every major hospital - it means the care we offer can be accessible to everyone, not just people who have the means to travel.
A special and rewarding job
In my job, I meet families who’ve experienced a lot of trauma and sometimes haven’t been able to access support. The hardest part for me is that no matter what we say or how much we try to reassure people, we can’t take away their grief. There are so many heightened emotions that pregnancy can bring up.
But, on the other hand, it’s a real privilege to do what I do. I love being able to spend time with families, to build relationships and be flexible to support them when they need me.
“Being there at the delivery and seeing families with their babies afterwards is so special.”
A lot of hospitals have bereavement midwives who would love to have more time to spend with families pregnant with their rainbow babies. I feel lucky to have a role where I can give as much time as I can to families during what can be a lonely and vulnerable time. It’s so special being able to see families all the way through pregnancy, to be a part of their lives for this short time and to help them bring home their rainbow babies.
Hope and light for the future
A rainbow baby to me means having hope. It’s a way to celebrate and remember the baby or babies who came before them. It’s finally having a baby here in your arms when they’re born healthy, having hope and light for the future. But it doesn’t take away the grief or the love for any babies we’ve previously lost.
A special delivery
Here at the Tommy’s Rainbow Clinic, we see about 150 families a year, and many of them have gone on to have their rainbow baby. Every single one is special to me, but it’s the very first that stands out most.
When applying for my job, one of my closest friends was pregnant with her rainbow baby. She was under the care of the Rainbow Clinic, and I was her community midwife. I was on call for her homebirth and was called out to care for her in labour one evening, 36 hours before my interview for the Rainbow Clinic role.
Her beautiful baby was born the following morning (excellent timing!) and the next day I was interviewed and offered the job. She turns 1 in August and getting to see her grow and thrive (and getting lots of cuddles along the way!) is such a joy.
There is hope
To anyone who’s still waiting for their rainbow baby, I would say – there is hope. As much as it can feel incredibly lonely, and of course pregnancy after loss is not easy, there is hope.
“Support is out there.”
There are lots of ups and downs with pregnancy after loss, with conflicting emotions. But support is out there. There are so many healthy rainbow babies out there who are helping to remember the siblings they never got to meet. I know it’s not easy, but we’re here to support you in any way we can.
We’re having our third annual Rainbow Race in September and I’m so excited to catch up with some of our rainbow families and see how the beautiful babies I’ve helped care for have grown.
Rainbow Baby Day
22 August 2023 is Rainbow Baby Day, a day to celebrate the beautiful rainbow babies of the world. But, we know this can be a tough time for some our community, and some may not like the term 'rainbow baby'.
We use the term ‘rainbow baby’ because it’s been used in the baby loss community for a long time, but we understand some people prefer not to use this phrase. This might be because they feel it over-simplifies the anxieties of pregnancy and parenting after loss or because they don’t see their past losses as ‘storms’, but as much-loved babies from much-wanted pregnancies.
Please know, wherever you are on your journey, you’re not alone and your experience matters. We see you and we’re here for you.
Our researchers, clinicians and midwives are working tirelessly to understand the causes of pregnancy complications and loss. With their ground-breaking findings and specialist care, they’ve helped thousands of families bring home a rainbow baby – and with your support, we'll continue our mission to make the UK the safest place in the world to give birth.