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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

After A Miscarriage: Helping Yourself to Heal

Miscarriage has been around since creation began, but that doesn't make it any easier to go through. I am convinced this is one of the most heart-rending experiences possible.

There are several theories of why miscarriages happen. One is that during the earliest days of cellular division the division goes wrong and begins to produce a completely nonviable cellular structure. This could include genes breaking off, replicating three or four times instead of two, the spinal cord (known at this early stage of development as the neural tube) not developing properly, and a multitude of other problems. Maternal hormonal balance, failure of the fetus to implant properly or in a good location, a uterus or cervix that is not strong enough to bear the weight of a pregnancy, fragile capillaries in and around the uterus/placenta/cervix, or 'just because' can also be 'reasons' for pregnancies to not work out. Research indicates that about five per cent of all miscarriages are healthy babies

The latest statistics indicate that one in four first time pregnancies/conceptions ends in miscarriage, while as many as one in two pregnancies overall ends in loss. These statistics become less encouraging when a woman reaches 35 years. Miscarriage rates increase to six out of ten pregnancies with the risk of genetic problems increasing geometrically instead of arithmetically. Paternal age and health have also been found to be factors in genetic problems, but this has not been studied as thoroughly as maternal influences. Really, when we look at what has to happen for conception to occur and for a viable pregnancy to result, it is quite a miracle that any of us are here to propagate the species.

While we can do many things nutritionally to help build a strong pregnancy there are no guarantees that a miscarriage will not happen. If it does happen there are several things a grieving mom can do to speed the physical healing. (There are holistic things grieving parents can do to help the emotional healing along as well.)

The mother's health may need some serious rebuilding. Miscarriage is often as hard physically as pregnancy, labour, and delivery combined.

Overall, vitamins and minerals can play a large part in rebuilding the mother's health. I often recommend using a good prenatal vitamin (Nu-Life makes an excellent one) with extra calmag plus D to total 1500 mg of calcium. Calcium and magnesium are necessary for cellular repair, maintenance, and for proper nerve function. Some people find that taking these nutrients before going to bed enhances sleep and since sleep is often somewhat disturbed after miscarriage these nutrients may be a good idea.

Since blood loss can be very heavy during a miscarriage, it may be a good idea to do things to rebuild the blood. Blood volume can be rebuilt by increasing fluid intake, and blood quality (red blood cell count) can be enhanced by using chlorophyll capsules. These contain highly concentrated plant chlorophyll which is a rich plant source of iron in a liquid suspension. (I feel the liquid suspension aspect of this makes it easier to assimilate the iron.)

After such a heavy emotional and physical experience the immune system can sometimes buckle under. It is wise to use some extra vitamin C with bioflavonoids, vitamins A and D, and a little extra zinc to support the immune response.

Depression can be a major part of the post-miscarriage experience. This can affect sleep patterns, and certainly does compromise the overall quality of life. It is necessary for most women, their partners, and even their children to grieve, and a part of the grieving process may be depression. If this depression lasts very long, more than a week for instance, it would be wise to seek help. Sadness after the loss of a child can last a long time, but serious, deep depression should not be allowed to hang on for too long. As a support to the nervous system, which to a large extent controls our emotional resiliency, it is usually wise to add a good mid-potency B complex (Stress Formula) with some extra B6. The B6 enhances sleep and ability to cope with stress, while the Stress Formula enhances the functioning of the rest of the nervous system. Certainly, time does help to distance the hurt.

There are some really good herbs to use to help strengthen the reproductive organs and get the hormones back on track. The most well-known one is Red Raspberry Leaves. This contains large amounts of calcium, iron, and other nutrients needed for pregnancy and good health. It has a relaxing and strengthening effect on the uterus. I also like the herb Squaw Vine for its strengthening, toning, and hormone balancing effects.

I know that for most women the physical heals much more quickly than the emotional after a miscarriage. This is a good time to use Bach Flower Remedies to help speed emotional healing. Bach Flower Remedies are homeopathic preparations of flower petals which can help to open up the energy of the body and mind so emotional healing can happen more quickly and completely. Bach Flower Remedies need to be made specifically for each person since everyone has different issues that need to be worked through. Specifically, Star of Bethlehem can be used to ease the shock. Cherry Plum can be used if one's mind is racing out of control. The deep despair, heartache, and depression can be eased by using Sweet Chestnut. Readjusting to life without baby can be made easier by using Walnut. Pine is used for feelings of guilt, the old 'what did I do wrong to cause this?'. If there is a surrealistic feeling, like the miscarriage is just a bad dream, Clematis is the Bach flower to use. Honeysuckle is used when one is living in the 'what might have been' and is unable to accept what has happened and move on. Bitterness can be mediated with Willow, especially if there is resentment toward other women who are pregnant or have babies. Heather can resolve chronic, mind-filling, prolonged thoughts about the miscarriage. Holly is for anger and revenge and jealousy towards women who have children.

Remember that a mother who has lost a baby will need special treatment for at least a while. The physical upset and the emotional imbalance may require kit leather glove care with special considerations. Pampering is certainly an acceptable gift to offer. Just as with any other significant loss in one's life, miscarriage takes time to work through. It is not easy, but it can be done.

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