Goshen News, Goshen, IN

February 10, 2013

WHOLE FAMILY: Handling miscarriages isn’t easy for mothers

By STEPHANIE PRICE
COLUMNIST

— According to the American Pregnancy Association, it happens in as many as 10 to 25 percent of all clinically recognized pregnancies. The baby doesn’t make it to 20 weeks, and the mother suffers a spontaneous abortion — a miscarriage.

Some half of those miscarriages are thought to be “chemical miscarriages,” losses that occur close to implantation of the embryo and look, often, like an extra-heavy period. Makes sense, then, to be suspicious that many women suffer miscarriages and don’t even know it, thinking it’s just late and copious menses.

I heard once it’s possible one in two childbearing women will suffer a miscarriage sometime in her life.

Having suffered three miscarriages myself — one at about 11 weeks and two “chemical” — I can tell you most women ask one question first: why?

If any three-letter word could run the world, that would be the one. Why?



The answers to “Why?” for miscarriages vary. Many times miscarriages occur when there’s a problem with the egg or sperm or their initial product, called a “zygote.” Frankly, in those cases, it’s often that the zygote is defective and likely wouldn’t have made it anyway.

Other reasons include hormone issues or other health problems, like an infection, in the mother. After my third miscarriage, I had my thyroid function tested and discovered my thyroid was, in fact, underactive. A few months after some hormone therapy, I became pregnant and stayed that way.

Harmful substances — tobacco products, drugs, toxins of other kinds — can cause miscarriages. But it probably was not the Diet Coke I drank before I knew I was pregnant that catalyzed mine. Still, I stepped up efforts and good nutrition and overall health, knowing what we feed ourselves has significant impact on all our body systems.

Implantation problems can cause miscarriages, like if the embryo implants too close to the opening, or the inside uterine lining is a little rough. And certainly trauma can cause miscarriage, though a baby is so well protected, it would take quite a bit to harm it. My miscarriage did not happen because I had batted around a few tennis balls. Believe me, I wondered.

Sometimes during a birth I wish I had X-ray vision — with no harmful radiation, of course — so I could see inside a woman’s pelvis and know exactly what is happening. Alas, no one is afforded such a privilege. That to say this: There’s a bit of a mystery to it all. Sometimes when miscarriages occur, there’s simply nothing clear about it.

Along with asking “Why?” most people want to know both how to avoid a miscarriage and how to handle one if it happens.

Avoiding is, well, about basic health. Good nutrition; adequate rest, exercise and hydration; avoidance of potentially harmful substances and activities. But know you can do all the right things and still suffer a pregnancy loss. For me, I think that contributed to why my first miscarriage was so devastating: It wasn’t supposed to happen.



Opinions differ about how to handle a threatened miscarriage — an instance where mother might be having light bleeding or cramping but still has a viable fetus. Some healthcare providers prescribe hormones or drugs, though some studies suggest they are, ultimately, ineffective in preventing a miscarriage that’s bound to happen.

Most care providers say something like this: Go about your business, perhaps taking it easier than usual. Stay well hydrated, eat optimally, and rest. If a threatened miscarriage is going to happen, most efforts to stop it seem to be in vain.

As for handling a miscarriage. Again, opinions differ. As best I can tell, the barometer is the bleeding. If your bleeding is like a heavy period and eventually slows, you’re probably not at great risk. Excessive bleeding and bleeding that won’t slow could mean a problem. Tack on other maternal health issues — say, anemia — and it would be a good idea to get somewhere where there’s blood to transfuse.

As for everything else, a miscarriage would warrant a call to your healthcare provider for her advice and, likely, a visit either during the process or shortly after. Some providers like to perform a dilation and curettage (“D&C”) to clear the uterus of all contents.

As long as my body was doing it itself and I showed no signs of infection, I said no to the D&C.

And the grieving. As with any death — of a baby, an older person, or an idea, hope or dream — women grieve over their miscarriages. It hurts to lose a baby, even if their baby was the size of a kidney bean.

A woman cycles through the common stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance — and might feel other emotions as well. Be aware that something might trigger grief you thought was handled. A baby shower six months later might open the flood gates. I know women whose miscarriage anniversary each year is cause for remembrance.

And don’t forget dad — and even family — experience the loss, too. We think of pregnancy and babies as mothers’ issues exclusively, but they’re not. Others hurt too.



Goshen News columnist Stephanie Price is a wife, mother, teacher, childbirth educator, midwife’s assistant and student nurse pursuing a minor in complementary and alternative medicine from Elkhart. Contact her at wholefamily@goshennews.com, 269-641-7249 or on Facebook at the page “Whole Family Column by Steph Price.”



Some half of those miscarriages are thought to be “chemical miscarriages,” losses that occur close to implantation of the embryo and look, often, like an extra-heavy period. Makes sense, then, to be suspicious that many women suffer miscarriages and don’t even know it, thinking it’s just late and copious menses.

I heard once it’s possible one in two childbearing women will suffer a miscarriage sometime in her life.

Having suffered three miscarriages myself — one at about 11 weeks and two “chemical” — I can tell you most women ask one question first: why?

If any three-letter word could run the world, that would be the one. Why?



The answers to “Why?” for miscarriages vary. Many times miscarriages occur when there’s a problem with the egg or sperm or their initial product, called a “zygote.” Frankly, in those cases, it’s often that the zygote is defective and likely wouldn’t have made it anyway.

Other reasons include hormone issues or other health problems, like an infection, in the mother. After my third miscarriage, I had my thyroid function tested and discovered my thyroid was, in fact, underactive. A few months after some hormone therapy, I became pregnant and stayed that way.

Harmful substances — tobacco products, drugs, toxins of other kinds — can cause miscarriages. But it probably was not the Diet Coke I drank before I knew I was pregnant that catalyzed mine. Still, I stepped up efforts and good nutrition and overall health, knowing what we feed ourselves has significant impact on all our body systems.

Implantation problems can cause miscarriages, like if the embryo implants too close to the opening, or the inside uterine lining is a little rough. And certainly trauma can cause miscarriage, though a baby is so well protected, it would take quite a bit to harm it. My miscarriage did not happen because I had batted around a few tennis balls. Believe me, I wondered.

Sometimes during a birth I wish I had X-ray vision — with no harmful radiation, of course — so I could see inside a woman’s pelvis and know exactly what is happening. Alas, no one is afforded such a privilege. That to say this: There’s a bit of a mystery to it all. Sometimes when miscarriages occur, there’s simply nothing clear about it.

Along with asking “Why?” most people want to know both how to avoid a miscarriage and how to handle one if it happens.

Avoiding is, well, about basic health. Good nutrition; adequate rest, exercise and hydration; avoidance of potentially harmful substances and activities. But know you can do all the right things and still suffer a pregnancy loss. For me, I think that contributed to why my first miscarriage was so devastating: It wasn’t supposed to happen.



Opinions differ about how to handle a threatened miscarriage — an instance where mother might be having light bleeding or cramping but still has a viable fetus. Some healthcare providers prescribe hormones or drugs, though some studies suggest they are, ultimately, ineffective in preventing a miscarriage that’s bound to happen.

Most care providers say something like this: Go about your business, perhaps taking it easier than usual. Stay well hydrated, eat optimally, and rest. If a threatened miscarriage is going to happen, most efforts to stop it seem to be in vain.

As for handling a miscarriage. Again, opinions differ. As best I can tell, the barometer is the bleeding. If your bleeding is like a heavy period and eventually slows, you’re probably not at great risk. Excessive bleeding and bleeding that won’t slow could mean a problem. Tack on other maternal health issues — say, anemia — and it would be a good idea to get somewhere where there’s blood to transfuse.

As for everything else, a miscarriage would warrant a call to your healthcare provider for her advice and, likely, a visit either during the process or shortly after. Some providers like to perform a dilation and curettage (“D&C”) to clear the uterus of all contents.

As long as my body was doing it itself and I showed no signs of infection, I said no to the D&C.

And the grieving. As with any death — of a baby, an older person, or an idea, hope or dream — women grieve over their miscarriages. It hurts to lose a baby, even if their baby was the size of a kidney bean.

A woman cycles through the common stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance — and might feel other emotions as well. Be aware that something might trigger grief you thought was handled. A baby shower six months later might open the flood gates. I know women whose miscarriage anniversary each year is cause for remembrance.

And don’t forget dad — and even family — experience the loss, too. We think of pregnancy and babies as mothers’ issues exclusively, but they’re not. Others hurt too.



Goshen News columnist Stephanie Price is a wife, mother, teacher, childbirth educator, midwife’s assistant and student nurse pursuing a minor in complementary and alternative medicine from Elkhart. Contact her at wholefamily@goshennews.com, 269-641-7249 or on Facebook at the page “Whole Family Column by Steph Price.”