Rainbow Baby or Pregnancy After Miscarriage

How soon you can get pregnant again after experiencing a loss

Rainbow of pregnant bellies

Jay P. Morgan/Getty Images

The term "rainbow baby" is used by parents who are expecting another child after losing a baby to miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death. Sadly, these are all-too-common parts of the fertility journey. The term is used frequently on blogs and message boards by mothers who've gone through pregnancy loss.

The term refers to the fact that a rainbow appears only after the rain. In this case, the “rain” or “storm” is the grief of losing a child. Many parents who use the term point out that the rainbow doesn’t negate the effects of the storm, which include strong feelings of guilt, anxiety, and fear. And despite the conflicting emotions, it does bring light to the darkness and is a symbol of hope and healing.

Chances of Conceiving

One of the many fears women experience after losing a pregnancy is that they'll never get pregnant again. Keep in mind that a previous pregnancy loss doesn't mean you're any less fertile.

After a miscarriage, it's very possible to become pregnant, have a full-term pregnancy, and deliver a healthy baby. Most women will have a successful pregnancy the next time they conceive after their first miscarriage. If you've miscarried two or three times, your odds are lower, but still good. If you do have two or more miscarriages in a row, talk to your doctor about testing to see if a cause for the miscarriages can be determined.

When Ovulation Resumes

Because your body returns to baseline fertility after miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death, it may be helpful to consider what this means exactly. After a pregnancy ends, either by spontaneous or induced means, ovulation can resume in as early as two weeks. When this happens, you can get pregnant. 

Research shows that there's a surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) between 16 and 22 days after miscarriage, neonatal death, and stillbirth. This surge in LH is followed by a surge in progesterone levels. These hormone surges mean that your body is ready to start ovulating again. Furthermore, endometrial biopsy confirms that these hormone changes result in changes to the lining of the uterus conducive to pregnancy.

Timing Pregnancy After Miscarriage

Advice regarding how long a woman should wait to get pregnant after a miscarriage can be confusing and controversial. You may have heard that you should wait six months to optimize your chance of having a healthy pregnancy following a miscarriage. But research shows this isn't true.

For example, findings from a 2016 study suggest that women who try to conceive within three months may have a greater likelihood of getting pregnant and having a live birth. And a 2017 review study found strong evidence that waiting less than six months to become pregnant following a miscarriage is not linked to adverse outcomes like low birth weight, pre-eclampsia, or stillbirth in the next pregnancy.

Regardless, how long you wait to become pregnant after a miscarriage is a personal decision and something to discuss carefully with your partner. Some people like to wait until after the next menstrual period so it's easier to calculate a due date—again, this is a personal decision.

There is no medical reason to hold off on trying to get pregnant after a miscarriage, but there may be emotional ones.

Contraception After Miscarriage

Some couples decide to wait to get pregnant after a miscarriage. In this case, contraception should be used as soon after miscarriage as possible. Oral contraceptives can be immediately started after a miscarriage. An IUD can also be inserted right away. There are also short-term contraceptive options, such as condoms, you can use until you're emotionally and physically ready to try again.

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  1. Jukic AM, Weinberg CR, Wilcox AJ, Baird DD. Effects of early pregnancy loss on hormone levels in the subsequent menstrual cycle. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2010;26(12):897-901. doi:10.3109/09513590.2010.487601

  2. Schliep KC, Mitchell EM, Mumford SL, et al. Trying to conceive after an early pregnancy loss: An assessment on how long couples should wait. Obstet Gynecol. 2016;127(2):204-12. doi:10.1097/aog.0000000000001159

  3. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Early pregnancy loss. Updated August 2015.

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