Bump photos and newborn photo shoots are a powerful way to memorialize pregnancy and childbirth, but a recent viral photoshoot is paying tribute to an aspect of motherhood that many of us rarely talk about.
A stunning photo of six moms and their “rainbow babies” is offering a message of love and hope to moms who’ve experienced a pregnancy loss.
According to Today, Missouri photographer Alex Bolen got the inspiration for the photo after she got pregnant with her first child and began noticing stories about grief and loss on almost every parenting website and “mommy blog” she read. Bolen ended up giving birth to a healthy baby girl, but the grieving moms she’d read about stayed with her. When she heard about “rainbow babies”—which is a term used to describe children born to moms who previously experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss—she decided to do something to celebrate the hope and strength of these mothers.
Bolen found six moms who’ve had rainbow babies and created a gorgeous photoshoot featuring the moms in rainbow gowns with colored smoke behind them.
“I found the women through Facebook by posting a status look for rainbow mommas,” Bolen told Berry. “I few of them I know, but some of them are new friends.”
For the shoot, each of the moms wore dresses from Sew Trendy Accessories and either held their rainbow babies or cradled their bumps. The colored smoke bombs were shot off two at a time, and then Photoshopped together during the editing process. Bolen posted the finished product on Facebook where, at the time of this writing, it’s been shared over 20,000 times. Most importantly, she also gave each of the moms a chance to share their stories on her page.
Kaila, photographed in the yellow dress, wrote that she had a miscarriage after trying for a year to get pregnant. She has five other kids, and they were devastated by the loss.
Heather, photographed in red, explained that she’s had two misscarriages, and she’s now 38 weeks along with her third pregnancy.
Bolen said her goal was to give voice to the entire spectrum of pregnancy and infant loss and to let parents who’ve been through it know they’re never alone.
“One of my biggest goals was to help people recognize that, whether the babies were only a few weeks in the womb or a few months on earth, they were here,” she told Today. “I also wanted the photo to be about hope, to let women know not to give up. Even after years of trying, there’s still that ray of hope.”
Loss is an aspect of pregnancy and birth that we rarely talk about, but it’s something far too many women experience. According to the CDC, as many as one in four women experience a pregnancy loss, and many women have to endure more than one. For these moms and their partners, Bolen’s photo is a vital message of solidarity and a much-needed encouragement to always keep hope alive.
“It’s been a lot of happy tears reading the stories people have shared with me,” Bolen told Berry. “I feel so blessed to have given a glimmer of hope to moms who may not have had their rainbow journey yet.”