Threatened / Recurrent Miscarriage

History of Miscarriage in Early Pregnancy

If a woman has suffered from a miscarriage before, future pregnancies will more than likely be filled with a certain amount of fear in anticipation of losing another pregnancy.  Sometimes a miscarriage happens due to genetic factors, when the egg and sperm meet, the chromosomes did not develop properly, some may be missing or added to the normal 46 chromosomes-where the genetic material is held. Other reasons include hormonal imbalances, illness and infection, immune problems and trauma.

Risk Factors
  • The more miscarriages a woman has already had, the more likely she is to suffer another one in future pregnancies.
  • After age 30 the risk of miscarriage is one in five. After age 42 the risk is one in two.

These factors are related to egg quality and hormone imbalances.

  • Poor health or poorly controlled health problems.
  • Lifestyle issues such as drinking alcohol, smoking and doing drugs.

In Chinese Medicine

In Chinese Medicine miscarriage is due to some problems in the Ren and Chong vessels-which are directly related in the conception and pregnancy, they are responsible for gathering blood and nourishing the fetus. There is also an element of kidney deficiency with recurrent miscarriages, as the kidneys are the root of conception energy. In this case the problem is related to deficiency.

Treatments in Chinese Medicine is effective to treat deficiencies, herbal medicine has been shown to improve hormone levels associated with reproduction and improve the quality of eggs as well as the endometrium lining the uterus.  Acupuncture also has a positive effect on hormones, egg quality and endometrium thickness and overall quality. An increasing amount of fertility clinics are recommending or offering acupuncture to go along with assisted reproduction treatments-acupuncture has shown to increase the success rate of these therapies such as IVF, ICSI and IUI.  Acupuncture improves the circulation and relaxing the body by regulating the autonomic nervous system and stimulating the ‘rest and digest’ state of the body.

Miscarriage may also be due to heat, either excess or deficiency. This may be due to emotional factors or a woman already having an issue of heat before the pregnancy. Treatments aimed at clearing heat and building up the yin fluids of the body are used, herbal medicine has powerful heat clearing herbs which are also safe for mother and baby.  Acupuncture is used to settle the body and calm the mind from the restlessness that the heat causes.

The best treatment for a woman with a history of miscarriage is to begin treatment with acupuncture and herbs at least 3 months before getting pregnant. The preparation and cultivation of the uterus and ovaries before getting pregnant will give a new embryo the best chance-like preparing the garden before planting the seed.

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Lifestyle Recommendations

The Chinese Medicine stand on what a woman should do when there is an increased risk of miscarriage differs from what a doctor or midwife would advise. Doctors and midwives would advise that a woman can carry on with life as normal.

A practitioner of Chinese Medicine would advise that when a woman has a deficiency-which is implied with recurrent miscarriage, the woman needs to rest as much as possible. This doesn’t always mean bedrest, but at least a reduction of work hours and arrangement for childcare. This is often a hard decision to make as women are often major contributors to the household income and can not afford to take the time off work. This situation is often a contributing reason why the woman is deficient in the first place.

Diet can also help in avoiding a miscarriage. Women who are deficient and feel easily cold should avoid food at cold temperatures and raw foods such as ice cream, cold water, cold raw vegetables, cold cheese etc. They should consume warming foods such as chicken or miso soup, rice or oat porridge with cinnamon or cooked vegetables.

Women who feel hot need to avoid stimulating foods such as coffee, alcohol sugar and strong spices. They should eat potatoes, yams avocados, pears, fermented tofu, aduki or kidney beans, peppermint tea, green salads, apples and grapefruit.