Anyone who has experienced a miscarriage understands how distressing it can be, but for those who experience several miscarriages the effects can be devastating. Recurrent miscarriage is the term used when a woman experiences the loss of three or more consecutive pregnancies.
The cause of miscarriage is not completely understood. However, researchers believe that most of miscarriages that occur during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy are due to random chromosomal abnormalities in the foetus that prevent it from developing normally. With access to the internet so readily available, it is natural to try and find out more information as to why the miscarriage occurred, and if there was anything that could have been done to prevent it. This information doesn’t ease the pain but it gives us knowledge to ask for further tests to be done or reassurance that we were in the best health we could be.
Whether a reason for the loss can be determined, the fear of loss becomes imbedded in us as does the desire to become as healthy as possible for future pregnancies. With this in mind I thought it would be interesting to look at achieving optimal health for conception and pregnancy from both a western medicine and Chinese medicine perspective.
Obviously diet needs to be taken into consideration so that we not only take in the correct nutrients, but also maintain a healthy weight. The following general pointers should be incorporated into your diet;
- Choose good quality fresh foods with fruit and vegetables of the season
- Enjoy food in a relaxed atmosphere away from your desk or the TV
- Remember it takes 20 minutes for the stomach to communicate to the brain that it is full and avoid overeating
- Eat 3 meals a day with small healthy snacks in between
- Protein such as lean meat, chicken, fish, tofu, eggs or lentils should be eaten at least once a day
- Homemade soups and stews are nutritious and good for the digestion
- Drink water at room temperature with your meals
- Avoid drinks with sugar or artificial sweeteners
- Minimise processed foods like cakes, biscuits and white breads
- Limit carbohydrates
- Limit fatty and fried foods but include good oils such as olive oil
- Remove caffeine from your diet and minimise alcohol consumption
- Cut out nicotine
- Ensure you are taking a pre-conception supplement that includes folic acid
Exercise is also necessary for good health and an important factor to enhance fertility as it manages weight, encourages hormonal balance and counteracts stress. The NHS currently recommends that adults should participate in 30 minutes of activity each day, so it is essential to choose activities that you enjoy. Remember that walking does count if you are someone that enjoys the outdoors rather than sport.
Ensuring that you get enough good quality sleep is not something that we often hear about. However, the quantity and quality of sleep is very important when preparing for pregnancy as it influences;
- the sex hormones
- sperm production
- ovulation and regular menstruation
- stress levels and mood
- immune factors
- weight gain and stamina
And for those men that are reading, the testicles are located outside the body because sperm develop best at a temperature several degrees cooler than normal internal body temperature. In practical terms this means that hot baths and steams rooms should be avoided along with tight fitting underwear and cycling. It has also been shown to be beneficial to take supplements containing Zinc, Selenium, Anti-oxidants and Omega 3 such as Well Man or Proxeed Plus.
So…How can acupuncture support recurrent miscarriage?
Acupuncture is known for its ability to reduce stress and has an important place in the treatment of fertility patients. Not only can it improve feelings of wellbeing, it can help deal with the emotions related to miscarriage, as well as the fear associated with further pregnancies.
Acupuncture also normalises the function of the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Ovarian axis which in turn
- Improves the function of the ovaries which assists the developing follicles and egg quality and leads to stronger embryos
- Increases the level of progesterone needed to maintain a pregnancy until the placenta is developed
- Improves the blood supply to the placenta
- Relaxes the body and reduces stress levels which assists with preventing early uterine contractions
Research also indicates that the sperm health may also benefit which would also enhance the strength of the developing embryo.
To chat about your individual situation and for more advice, please get in touch.
Danny Blyth and Greg Lampert (2015) Eating for Health and Wellbeing
Jane Lyttleton (2004) Treatment of Infertility with Chinese Medicine
Nurture Fertility (2016) Available from: http//wwwnurturefertility.co.uk