The natural approach to preventing repeat pregnancy loss
Repeat Pregnancy Loss (RPL), also known as habitual miscarriage, is defined as two or more pregnancy losses within the first 24 weeks of gestation. 50% of the time, the cause is unknown. There are a number of strategies that one can employ to help prevent repeat pregnancy loss and reduce the risk of miscarriages.
Reduce Risk and Prevent Repeat Pregnancy Loss
The first step to prevent repeat pregnancy loss is to have a comprehensive work-up to rule out any known causes:
- Uterine structural abnormalities
- Blood-clotting issues
- Inherited genetic factors
- Hormonal disorders
- Environmental and lifestyle factors
Conventional western heath care is the best choice for addressing uterine structural abnormalities, blood-clotting issues, and inherited genetic factors. It will typically include medication and/or surgery.
An integrative approach, where patients are receiving care from both a conventional doctor and a holistic practitioner, works well for hormonal factors.
Holistic medicine not only helps to manage hormonal imbalances, it is well-suited to working with environmental and lifestyle factors and can help prepare the mother’s body to support a healthy pregnancy when there are unknown causes of repeat pregnancy loss. Holistic medicine will include nutrition – food, vitamins, supplements, and herbs – along with acupuncture, and other complimentary healing modalities.
Prevent Repeat Pregnancy Loss: Hormonal Disorders
Hormonal disorders are a broad category, and while all hormones interact with each other, we can break down this group into distinct issues, including:
- Thyroid issues
- High levels of prolactin
- Diabetes (high blood sugars)
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugars)
- PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
- High levels of androgens, including testosterone
For many of these issues the best approach is an integrative one, where patients are getting both prescribed medications and using a holistic approach that may include acupuncture, diet, vitamins and supplements.
Hormonal imbalances can be successfully resolved with this comprehensive approach. A treatment plan begins with a thorough evaluation by a skilled practitioner, including appropriate lab testing and goes on to include monitoring, referrals when needed, nutritional support and acupuncture to help balance and regulate your hormones.
Prevent Repeat Pregnancy Loss: Environmental and Lifestyle Factors
Many environmental and lifestyle factors may contribute to miscarriages:
- Cigarette smoking
- Alcohol consumption of greater than 3 – 5 drinks per week
- Illicit drug use, i.e. cocaine
- Caffeine consumption of greater than 3 cups daily
For couples with two or more pregnancy losses, both partners should:
- Cease smoking and alcohol consumption
- Cease illicit substance use
- Limit caffeine consumption to three or fewer cups per day
- Normalize BMI (Body Mass Index)
Holistic medicine practitioners will provide both guidance and coaching to their patients who are making significant dietary and lifestyle changes.
Unknown Causes of Repeat Pregnancy Loss
Some of the causes of repeat pregnancy loss that fall into the “unknown” category include:
- Patterns in Chinese medicine
Inflammation is a fact of life, and we all of have some inflammation in our bodies. High levels of inflammation may interfere with any number of otherwise healthy bodily functions, causing hormonal imbalances, immune system dysregulation, and contributing to a hostile uterine environment.
There are holistic ways to reduce inflammation, including:
- Anti-inflammatory diet, avoiding such inflammatory foods as gluten and dairy
- Anti-inflammatory support such as a high-quality fish oil. Look for one that has both its purity and potency guaranteed.
The role of immunology in repeat pregnancy loss is not well understood. What we do know is that the immune system must act in very specific ways in order to allow an embryo (aka a foreign body) to implant and stay put in the womb. Helping the immune system work properly is done via acupuncture, along with diet and lifestyle factors. For instance, vitamin D plays an important role in helping to regulate a healthy immune system. Having one’s vitamin D levels screened, and supplementing with vitamin D if need, is an easy holistic strategy for lowering the risk of a miscarriage.
Patterns in Chinese medicine
Chinese medicine has been treating miscarriages for centuries. The patterns, or causative factors, of pregnancy loss in Chinese medicine are well understood and have been documented over a long history. A skilled acupuncturist will employ acupuncture, nutrition, lifestyle, and herbs to address these patterns and limit the risks of future pregnancy loss.
A pregnancy loss is a difficult experience and doing everything possible to prevent future miscarriages can feel daunting. Finding a skilled health care provider who can guide you through a comprehensive work-up, followed by an appropriate treatment plan, goes a long way towards ensuring your future pregnancy success.