Jessica Zucker started a T-shirt campaign to celebrate "rainbow babies" and bring awarness to the issue of miscarriage—and for many women, the campaign has been life changing.
Jessica Zucker, Ph.D., was 16 weeks pregnant when she miscarried. Luckily, she got pregnant with her second child just a few months later—but she's still committed to shedding light on the all-too-common issue of pregnancy and infant loss.
As a clinical physiologist who specializes women's reproductive and maternal health, Zucker understands the repressive nature of discussions surrounding infant loss. She also understands that talking about the intensely painful issue can help women heal. There's a stigma surrounding the topic of miscarriage, one that Zucker hopes to remove. That's why she started the #IHadAMiscarriage hashtag campaign and wrote a viral New York Times op-ed on the topic in 2014. Both the hashtag and the piece made a huge impact on countless women who came forward to share their experiences, but Zucker didn't stop there.
Most recently, she released a line of tee-shirts and tote bags in celebration of rainbow babies, a term that refers to a child who enters a parent's life after a miscarriage or stillbirth. “It isn’t just a pregnancy after pregnancy loss. A rainbow baby can be a baby that somebody adopts after a loss, a baby that they get through surrogacy," Zucker told Fit Pregnancy.
She viewed the T-shirt campaign as a way for women to form connections and communities with other moms who have shared experiences. “I wasn’t going to make a shirt saying ‘I had a miscarriage’ even though I wanted to because I knew no one would wear it," Zucker, who also released a line of cards for miscarriage sufferers in 2015, said. The softer approach just might prompt moms with similar experiences to connect: If the mother of a rainbow baby sees someone else wearing one of them, well, that could very well set off an important conversation, one a miscarriage sufferer may never have without this sort of prompt.
Zucker spoke to the fact that countless women are afraid to discuss their miscarriages. “I think it’s just the general way our culture deals with grief and difficult topics," she said. But the work she's done to draw awareness to the topic hasn't just helped grieving mothers—it's also sparked conversation among families. "You could wear this shirt if you have a rainbow baby but you can also wear this shirt if you are yourself a rainbow baby," she said, explaining that several people have reached out to tell her they recently learned they were rainbow babies themselves.
While she believes we've come a long, long way when it comes to discussing experiences with infant loss, it's still something of a taboo topic, and she hopes to chip away at that with these T-shirts. The response to Dr. Zucker's work has been entirely positive. She's received countless emails and social media messages from grateful women—while infant loss and miscarriage will always be tough to discuss, women with these experiences should know they're not alone. “The point behind that was for me to really sort of represent and illuminate the glaring statistics around pregnancy loss," Dr. Zucker explained. "If approximately 20 percent of pregnancies result in loss, why is it that so many people are saying that the feel isolated and alone?”