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Let's talk about miscarriage

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I've never had one. But I've heard lots of stories, grandmothers, friends, women here on MDC. Early miscarriages seem pretty straight forward. Bleeding. Cramping. Later miscarriages, movement stops, cramping, labor, delivering, more bleeding.

We don't talk about miscarriage much on here. I feel like I am missing a bunch of information about how to deal with a miscarriage while UPing or UCing. I'd rather learn about it now, then after it happens. I guess I assume that at some point during my life it will likely happen. Anyone willing to share the resources they know about, personal experiences or advice?

I know that this is a sensitive topic, but I would appreciate anyone willing to share your practical/technical knowledge might be useful. My main question is, how do you deal with this at home? What do you look out for by way of complications? What changes (if any) do you make to diet, herbs or activity level? Do you use anything to cope with the physical pain? What do you do with the body if it's not an early miscarriage? How long is the bleeding normal?
post #2 of 18
It varies. I saw an OB through my whole much prayed for last preganancy that pretty much tanked after 5 weeks. I maintained the preganancy for 8 weeks which we both consider due to my nutritional status/excellent prenatal care. I wound up having a D&C due to multiple hemmorhagic episodes. You can do everything right and lose a baby. If you saturate a maxipad in one hour, you need to call an MD or midwife for further help.
post #3 of 18
I had three losses before going on to have my daughter. I ended up studying them intensively in depth, so here's what I know:

Firstly, I learned that miscarriage is extremely common. One in four pregnancies is known to end in miscarriage, but the number is thought to be much higher - probably about 50% - because many women don't even realize they are having a miscarriage and think that they are only having a late or heavy period.

Miscarriage is completely normal and extremely common. Just that knowledge helped me cope a lot because when you have one, you feel like it's somehow your fault. It's not. A billion little things have to happen just perfectly to make a baby and if even one of them doesn't go right, it may not happen. Our bodies were made to miscarry as much as they were made to give birth or have periods, so it's not something to be scared of, just understood.

Having a few miscarriages in a row does not necessarily mean that you cannot have a baby or that there is anything wrong with you. Many doctors insist on doing invasive examinations after two miscarriages. I had three and ended up with a very healthy baby and pregnancy. Because miscarriage chances are literally the same as flipping a coin, you may have a few in a row before conceiving a viable pregnancy.

There are some safety procedures for unassisted miscarriage, but nothing major. Usually everything goes just fine, but for a small percentage of women, there are life-threatening emergencies (just like with anything else, right? ).

1. Watch for signs of hemorrhage. Soaking more than one large heavy pad in an hour can be a sign of a problem, but not always. Miscarriage is usually like a very heavy period. If you are losing a large amount of blood quickly or if you are pale and feel shaky and light-headed, you may need to get to the ER.

2. Miscarriage is like birth. You have what is essentially like an open wound inside of your body which can become infected. Never insert anything into your vagina during a miscarriage or after. Don't feel for dilation and don't have sex. It is the best way to be sure you are not introducing bacteria to the placental site. This normally isn't a problem because the body keeps itself so clean, but sometimes some of the (non-living) birth products are retained and these can grow bacteria which can lead to infection.

3. If you develop an infection, you must get to the ER immediately for a D&C and a course of antibiotics. Infection can be almost immediately life-threatening. Signs of infection include fever, flu-like symptoms, green, yellow, or whitish discharge, tenderness in the abdominal area when pressed, and foul odor coming from the vagina. Uterine infection can also cause scarring which can prevent you from carrying to term or getting pregnant in the future.

4. Bleeding from an early miscarriage lasts about as long as a normal period with maybe a couple of additional days. Bleeding from a late miscarriage can last longer and be a bit heavier. You may or may not experience birth-like lochia. Bleeding that starts and stops (ie: you bleed for five days, stop for a whole day, bleed two days, stop two days, bleed again) can be a sign of retained tissues.

5. Cramping usually lasts one to two days. If you are having cramping for more than two days and you are experiencing heavy bleeding for more than two days, it is a sign that you could have retained some of the tissues. In this case, it is absolutely imperative that you do not insert anything into your vagina. In some cases, the retained product will come out in the next couple of days, but this is not always the case. If the retained tissues do not come out on their own, you should see a doctor about having a D&C to prevent infection.

Self-care during miscarriage is not difficult. Don't exert yourself and be sure to remove yourself from stressful situations. Stay home if you want to. Get plenty of rest and eat as you normally would. To replenish yourself from the blood loss, you can drink nettle tea or take Floradix.

Cramping during miscarriage can be very strong and for some women, painful. You can take pain relievers for this, but I prefer to tough it out. The reason for this is because it is not uncommon to have false miscarriages or miscarriages in which a non-viable twin is expelled, leaving the second twin alive and well. I would not want to chance harming a viable baby, so I deal with the pain as much as I can.

Red raspberry leaf tea is excellent for miscarriage. I drank at least two cups a day while miscarrying.

Taking a pregnancy test after having a miscarriage will not tell you whether or not you are still pregnant. The HCG in your urine can give a positive reading up to three months after having a miscarriage, so if you want to take a test, get two blood tests a number of days apart to see if your HCG levels are decreasing or still increasing. (Edited to add: if you think you had a miscarriage but your HCG levels are still increasing, but at a very very slow rate - not enough for a viable pregnancy, there is a possibility of ectopic pregnancy so you should always take a trip to the emergency room to have a look at what is going on.)

I personally do not recommend getting ultrasound after a miscarriage to check for viability of pregnancy. I cannot tell you how many stories I have heard of women who went to the doctor's office during what they thought was a miscarriage and the doctor found no heartbeat. These women then went home planning to have an unassisted miscarriage rather than agree to the doctor's advice of an immediate D&C. These women went on to discover that their babies were fine and if they had consented to the D&C, they would have been terminating a viable pregnancy. I wonder, after hearing their stories, how many healthy pregnancies were terminated by incorrect diagnosis using ultrasound (which is HIGHLY inaccurate). If you want to check for viability of pregnancy after a miscarriage, I suggest HCG quant. blood checks instead unless you or your doctor suspect infection or other problems.
post #4 of 18
What Amberskyfire said. I've had 4 complete miscarriages and lost one baby from my current pregnancy. This one is the only time I sought medical care, but because I was having pain specifically on one side and suspected ectopic (turns out it was due to a pretty bad cyst.)

With one, I did bleed for about three weeks but it was never terribly heavy.

If you just let your body do what it knows to do, most of the time you'll be fine. Complications from miscarriage are fairly rare.
post #5 of 18
I posted in the loss forum about my UP/UC miscarriage that happened at 9 weeks. It started with some very light spotting (that I just knew wasn't right) and my early fundal height just felt smallish to me.. I fought with myself about what I wanted to do. There was a part of me (the panicked part) that wanted to rush into the ER for an u/s to get an instant answer but the more rational part of me wanted to wait it out. I waited and I feel it was a far better experience than the poking and prodding I would have received at the hospital. For me not knowing for sure (even though I think I really in my heart knew) was hard... but felt it was very rewarding (at the end) to wait.

The things I watched out for were fever, pain/tenderness, excessive bleeding, and any foul odors. I made sure to inspect the placenta after it came out. Once it really started happening (about a week after the first spotting incident) I knew without a doubt what was happening. I knew that the doctor/hospital couldn't save the pregnancy and I felt far more empowered for the experience of doing it myself.

I agree that RRL is excellent while miscarrying. I took a pregnancy test shortly after I felt I ovulated the first time to see if I had anything in my system (I was pretty sure I had a complete miscarriage) and it was totally BFN. 6 weeks after my miscarriage I conceived again...
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Wow, thanks for all the information so far. Hopefully I won't ever have to use any of it but more likely I'll someday utilize it for myself or share it with someone I know.

Within the past few months there was a MDC mom who lost her baby later on in her pregnancy. She was posting on this board about stimulating labor as she wanted to deliver before the body started to decompose significantly. As I remember the doctors where pushing her to have a D&C. Other than how nice it would be to miscarry a baby that still looks like a baby, what should be considered in a later miscarriage?
post #7 of 18
Originally Posted by basje View Post
Wow, thanks for all the information so far. Hopefully I won't ever have to use any of it but more likely I'll someday utilize it for myself or share it with someone I know.

Within the past few months there was a MDC mom who lost her baby later on in her pregnancy. She was posting on this board about stimulating labor as she wanted to deliver before the body started to decompose significantly. As I remember the doctors where pushing her to have a D&C. Other than how nice it would be to miscarry a baby that still looks like a baby, what should be considered in a later miscarriage?
As with a normal miscarriage, just be sure to avoid putting things into the vagina. The main thing I would be concerned with if I had a late loss would be blood loss. Because the baby's placenta would be flaccid from lack of blood pressure, there may be a very slightly increased chance of hemorrhage in the mother after the birth, but it's still very unlikely.

The issue, however, is that it might be more difficult for the mother to stop the bleeding because baby cannot suckle and I don't think that the placenta would be edible (though I am not sure on this). It would be a good idea to make sure that momma has other methods available to stop hemorrhage and if it occurs, use strong uterine massage and nipple stimulation to stop the bleeding.

Also, a deteriorated placenta is more likely to break apart and leave behind pieces in the uterus after delivery, so momma should check the placenta to be sure it is whole and if she's not sure, she can always go to the hospital afterward and have them do ultrasound to check. It's possible that they would do this anyway because you do go to the hospital after a late loss, yes? I have never had one so I am not sure, but don't you have to take a deceased fetus to the hospital before you can get funeral services? Someone else would know about that much better than I would.
post #8 of 18
There has been some wonderful information already, so I just wanted to share my story. I had an unassisted miscarriage. I started bleeding and cramping at 10 weeks, and knew it was a miscarriage as soon as I noticed the blood. I was traveling abroad at the time, and I sought out the local hospital for an ultrasound. They did a transvaginal ultrasound, and the baby was about the size of a 7 week old fetus, with no beating heart. I then went home, and waited for the miscarriage to start.

The bleeding increased pretty soon after that. It was not very painful, but the cramps were contraction-like in nature. It was different from labor in that the contractions were weaker, and there was quite a lot of blood, and clots coming out with each contraction. I made sure that everything passed into a stainless steel bowl, so that I could see if everything was there. The whole thing lasted for quite a while - from the first spot of blood at around 8 am, to the amniotic sack coming out whole, at about 1 am the next day.

Bleeding went on for around a week after the miscarriage. I started menstruating again two months later.
post #9 of 18
I had an "unconfirmed" miscarriage at 7 weeks. Meaning that I knew when I ovulated, I knew I was pregnant, and then without medical confirmation, I miscarried at 7 weeks.

I was not like a period, like I expected it to be. I felt very "pushy", compared to a period. I spent a week in our jacuzzi bathtub, basically. I would have a few hours where I felt pushy, and I would, and I'd pass big clots and blood. It lasted 10 days, I'd guess. I knew something was wrong beforehand, two or three weeks. And then I finally started bleeding.

It was by no means easy. But I know that it was the way things were supposed to be. And I did all of it by myself, knowing what I was doing. It was actually quite healing, in a way.
post #10 of 18
Originally Posted by amberskyfire View Post
As with a normal miscarriage, just be sure to avoid putting things into the vagina. The main thing I would be concerned with if I had a late loss would be blood loss. Because the baby's placenta would be flaccid from lack of blood pressure, there may be a very slightly increased chance of hemorrhage in the mother after the birth, but it's still very unlikely.
I just read last night in Holistic Midwifery II about giving birth to a near-term baby that has died (weird, I just sort of found that section and started reading). One of the main concerns was indeed hemorrhage, for several reasons.

Another was that the longer the baby has been dead, the more mom's hormones are returning to her non-pregnant state. Anne Frye says because of this that the mom has to be very determined to complete the miscarriage at home.

Let's see ... she also commented on the absence of the baby's energy during the birth, and how that affects the process. Birth with a live baby involves two people working toward the goal, but when one of them has died, it is harder for the other one to do it all by herself.

Also, the practical aspects of decomposition of the baby. It is important not to handle the emerging baby roughly AT ALL, so as not to break the body apart. Gentle support, that is it, no traction.

I believe a PP is correct that the baby (by law) has to be seen by someone "official" after the birth, to confirm the death.

ETA: Also, if the amniotic fluid or anything smells bad, it is likely the woman will need medical care for infection.
post #11 of 18
With my first pregnancy baby stopped growing at 7 but I didn't find out until 14 weeks when I started spotting. I had it verified at the hosptial with an ultrasound.

I opted to let nature take it's course, which I'm not sure I'd do again. The pain was really bad and the entire thing lasted about a month. The baby passed within a week but I guess some placenta stuck around because I bled heavily for weeks after and ended up at the ER for hemmoraghing.
post #12 of 18
I went to the hospital for my first (of six) miscarriage. We were in an ER room for seven hours of poking, prodding, CATHETERIZING ME (because apparently you need help to pee if you have a miscarriage), a transvaginal ultrasound, a pelvic ultrasound, so many blood draws that it was too many to count, the need to be flat on my back on a terribly uncomfortable gurney, and intrusive, insensitive medical personnel, all because apparently I needed to be told, "Yup, that sure is a miscarriage. Rest for a few days." For the other five miscarriages, the last place in the world I wanted to be was at the hospital. I've never had any complications, and I've never had fertility issues (each one of my miscarriages has been before a healthy pregnancy-- I have five living children and one about to be born). I would look out for the "more than one full pad an hour" sign of trouble, and after the second day, you should really start to feel BETTER every day, not worse. And otherwise treat yourself as you would during any postpartum time-- rest, relax, nothing in the vagina, listen to your body, etc.
post #13 of 18
I was very resistant to going to the hospital with my first miscarriage (12-13 weeks gest.). Planning to go it alone, with just dh. Dh was in agreement as well.

At some point my mother came out to help with the children, and at some point she and dh started asking me to consider seeking help because I had been *gushing* blood for hours and was in a whole lot of pain. I finally did come to agreement with them that something wasn't right.

However, we didn't go to the ER. I called in to my midwives and they had me come into the office. The midwife found that the baby had gotten hung up in my cervix, keeping the bleeding going and preventing the miscarriage from completing. She was able to correct that in the office, with what amounted to little more than a pelvic exam. So, I'm glad I went for care, but also glad the care I got was in a "safe" place, and very minimal.

The biggies to watch for would be hemorrhage and fever.
post #14 of 18
I've had several very early (5-6 week) miscarriages at home with no problems, one 10 week managed medically with a D&C at 12 weeks, and then decided to "UM" my last miscarriage at home. The fetus stopped growing at nearly 10 weeks gestation. Around 12 weeks, I started some light spotting. At 13 weeks, I actually did feel contractions and pressure and the fetus came out before the blood started. It was much worse and more traumatic than I thought it would be although I'd read plenty of stories about miscarrying even later pregnancies at home. I was really freaked out by the sight of the fetus in a disgusted way I didn't expect. I saw the placenta and the cord. Then the bleeding began. Several hours later, it had only increased. By the time I got to the ER, my blood pressure went down to 70 something over 30 something, I had an emergency D&C, I'd lost a large amount of blood and blood clots the size of my hand were coming out. I spent weeks recovering, the first week nearly unable to walk on my own.

I would do it again because I've had multiple D&Cs and would like to avoid GA when possible; but I would go to the ER sooner if the bleeding was soaking through pads like crazy.
post #15 of 18
One concern would be that hemmoraging seems to be more likely with a miscarriage, and more likely after the placenta has begun to work- as someone above said, birth is a hormonal concert in which baby and mother both play a part, and with only one part being played, it doesn't always work quite the same way birth does.
post #16 of 18
Just want to say that my m/c at 12 weeks was not at all like a heavy period. That can be very misleading. The contractions were very painful. I sat for hours on the toilet with blood streaming out of my body. When I saw the huge clots I was passing, I blacked out (lovely). RRL tea made me throw up. I ended up in ER because I was so unprepared for what happened - due to the MW saying it would be like "a heavy period." All kinds of tissue was passed. Since I know what it can be like I would be able to handle it at home next time.
post #17 of 18
With my 2nd m/c at 10wks i was told the baby was measuring 6wk4days a week later at what was 11wks i started bleeding, went to the ER that u/s showed a baby measuring 8wk2days with no heartbeat. I ended up passing the baby at what would had been 13wk range at home, it was worse that normal labor. The baby was a whitish/grey color , we ended up saving the baby to have testing done which i regret since it gave us no answers other than being told it was passed intact and the microscopic testing they did said there was nothing abnormal.
post #18 of 18
I've had two unassisted home miscarriages. The second was at about 6 weeks and was very straightforward to handle at home (like the mythical "heavy period" that miscarriages are always described as, but is woefully inadequate to even come close to describing my first miscarriage experience!). The first was at 14w5d and was very much a birth. In fact, it was just like a full-term labor, except for the massive, grapefruit-sized clots that followed the baby! Those clots made me very nervous and after becoming unable to distinguish whether I was fainting or dying, we went to the ER about 4 hours after the birth. (I was expecting blood transfusions actually, but they acted like I was overreacting and somewhat ridiuculous.) The whole birth story is extremely long and is posted on my m/c blog (not sure if link is okay to share, but it is here). I found it very difficult to find much information online about natural home miscarriage, especially after about the 8 week mark. I felt almost "betrayed" during my experience by ALL the pregnancy, birth, and midwifery books I have at home and that NONE of them contained any miscarriage-helpful information.

The same comfort measures and coping skills that help during a fullterm birth also help during a miscarriage-birth. Stayed hydrated and nourished is important. I wish I had been able to find some tips on aftercare and assessing blood loss. I lost more blood with that baby than with my two previous births *combined* (and I had a manual extraction of clots the first time too) and that was with a full-term pregnant blood volume, not a 15 weeks pregnant blood volume. I had no possible idea that I could bleed that much and still be okay. (Also, the placenta didn't come out until SIX DAYS after the baby!) But, I *was* okay and ended up feeling affirmed and empowered again by the power and wisdom of my body. (The 6 week miscarriage was actually much more undermining of my body-trust than the later gestation miscarriage-birth was.)

We had a ceremony for the baby at sunset of the day he was born and buried him under a tree in our front yard. I have written about that on my blog as well. I only took two pictures of him and really, really wish I had taken more.
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