by Beth Heller, M.S.
Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) is one of the most frustrating fertility challenges a woman can experience. One loss is devastating enough but the cycle of expectation and disappointment that accompanies RPL can create feelings of despair. But from both a medical and a holistic perspective, though, couples who experience RPL have plenty of reason to be hopeful.
“In practice we will initiate a work-up for RPL after two losses in a row,” says Reproductive Endocrinologist Dr. Christopher Sipe of Fertility Centers of Illinois. A medical work-up is important since common conditions such as hyper/hypothyroid, PCOS, luteal phase defect , infection and diabetes can cause RPL. Once there is a better understanding of the causes of miscarriage, steps can be taken to choose a treatment plan that will optimize the chance of a healthy pregnancy.
There are also holistic strategies for addressing potential root causes of miscarriage.
1. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine
From the Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective much of miscarriage prevention occurs in the months leading up to pregnancy. Regular fertility acupuncture treatment prior to conception can help to manage stress, potentially regulate the menstrual cycle and improve the uterine environment by increasing blood flow – key elements promoting a healthy uterine environment and pregnancy. In cases of threatened abortion, several studies show that treatment with TCM herbs has been shown to be beneficial and may relate to an impact on endocrine hormones and abnormal maternal-fetal immune interaction. While herbs are NOT appropriate during a medicated fertility cycle, woman who are not using ART may wish to explore acupuncture and herbal therapy. However, if you choose to consider this route, we recommend that you check with your OB before beginning any herbal regimen and ALWAYS work with a licensed TCM practitioner who specializes in fertility and pregnancy.
2. Nutritional Support
Studies have linked conditions like hyper/hypothyroid, obesity, PCOS and oxidative stress to early pregnancy loss and each of these conditions has a nutrition connection. Assuring that a woman’s diet is rich in antioxidant nutrients like Vitamin A, C, E and selenium can reduce oxidative stress. In some cases, food allergy or intolerance may be causing gastro-intestinal inflammation which in turn may negatively impact the uterine environment or impair the absorption of nutrients that are vital to reproductive function, as in the case of celiac disease. RPL is also more prevalent in women with diabetes and PCOS. Working with a nutritionist to learn how to eat an anti-inflammatory diet that is rich in antioxidant nutrients, and supports good blood sugar regulation and GI function not only supports overall fertility but may address root causes of pregnancy loss.
3. Stress Reduction
Giving yourself time to grieve, finding community and surrounding yourself with positive people can make a huge difference for a woman who has experienced RPL and is “trying again.” Researchers hypothesize a link between stress and poor pregnancy outcomes , so techniques like support groups, yoga and meditation not only help you feel better but may help you stay pregnant.
If you would like more information about holistic support for miscarriage or would like to meet with a Pulling Down the Moon Patient Advocate to discuss your particular experience, please call us at 312-321-0004 (Chicago-Area) or 301-610-7755 (DC Metro) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.