Most Western physicians do not take proactive measures such as progesterone tests in newly pregnant women to ensure there is enough of this hormone to uphold the pregnancy. Also, it is unlikely that a woman will receive in-depth blood work measuring thyroid antibodies, genetic factors or coagulation factors after one or even two miscarriages. Typically, these measures are taken, along with chromosomal analysis on the fetus, only after a woman has three miscarriages in a row.
As my MD friend once told me, “Who wants to wait for miscarriage number 3? Let’s start asking questions now!”
I couldn’t agree more. Not only does this approach bring peace of mind to patients, it is truly preventative medicine. With each miscarriage women have the chance of developing phospholipid antibodies which can interfere with subsequent pregnancies.
While one miscarriage is not necessarily cause for alarm, by definition miscarriage is a type of early labor and requires care for the body to recover. Oriental medicine is especially equipped, due to its philosophy of holistic health for parents and baby, to help women recover from a miscarriage, investigate the cause of the miscarriage and work to make the next pregnancy stick.
1. Threatened Miscarriage
2. Inevitable Miscarriage
3. Recurrent Miscarriage
Oriental medicine has a long history of helping women conceive and carry a healthy pregnancy to term. Treatment for high risk mothers should start at least three months prior to conception. Then, when the practitioner and the patient (especially if she has miscarried before-she needs to be emotionally and physically ready) decide the time is right for conception, that pregnancy needs to be carefully watched.
As a fertility expert, my care does not end at with the first positive pregnancy test. I watch women carefully during the first trimester and intervene when necessary.
In my practice, I find both Western and Eastern diagnostics to be invaluable in monitoring a pregnancy:
- Through Western measurements we can assess the amount of HCG (pregnancy hormone) in the urine of newly pregnant women and make sure it is rising appropriately.
- As early as week 4 or 5, we can tell if it the HCG numbers are lacking. If so, treatment can be applied to nourish the embryo and facilitate growth.
- Progesterone is an easy to measure marker of the ability of the mother to uphold the pregnancy. If it is below the optimal range, supplemental progesterone or Chinese herbal formulas can easily remedy the situation in most cases.
- The next hurdle, after these early tests, is an ultrasound between 8-10 weeks which should show good fetal development and a heartbeat.
- Finally, at the end of the first trimester, women often request noninvasive genetic assessment which consists of detailed ultrasound measurements of the fetus and blood work.
- Before there were LH surge (ovulation) detection strips, there was Chinese pulse analysis to detect ovulation. As I have learned this skill and make it a point to pass it on to my students and interns. I can tell within a three day window if someone is in the ovulation phase. I can tell if it is a strong or weak ovulation.
- Additionally, because the pulse changes with each phase of the menstrual cycle, and throughout pregnancy, I have certain benchmarks that I want to see for a healthy pregnancy:
- Phase 1- menstrual cycle
- Phase 2-pre-ovulatory
- Phase 3-ovualtion
- Phase 4 post ovulation/luteal phase which if someone is newly pregnant simply carries over into the first six weeks of pregnancy
- After six-eight weeks, the pulse changes again, indicating an increase in blood volume
- At the end of pregnancy, the pulse will change yet again, indicating labor is near
When Mom and Baby pass all of these hurdles, she can breath a sigh of relief.
The chances of miscarriage at this point is less than 2%.
Sometimes, the body, in its wisdom, rejects a fetus that is not chromosomal normal. These miscarriages can happen so soon that a women does not even recognize that she is pregnant! Her period may simply be late and heavy. Over 60% of miscarriages fall into this category. This is type of miscarriage is called “Inevitable”.
I have worked to save a pregnancy many times when there is bleeding and cramping during the first trimester. This is referred to as a Threatened Miscarriage. While bleeding is not a good sign, it does not necessarily mean she will loose the baby. Sometimes a uterine blood clot will cause bleeding, or low progesterone will cause bleeding, or often there is no discernible Western cause. Oriental Medicine to the rescue! The Chinese have a long tradition of facilitating pregnancy health, in fact there are even special herbs used to stop a Threatened Miscarriage!
Perhaps the most heart wrenching situation is the Recurrent Miscarriage. These women may or may not have fertility difficulties. What they do have in common is that they can not hold a fetus. This issue is inherently more difficult to treat, and to my knowledge, unless it results from a progesterone deficiency, Western medicine has no treatment for this issue. However, Oriental medicine, due to its focus on health, is ideal for this type of fertility problem.
As with all types of miscarriage, Recurrent Miscarriage may or may not be related to the cause of infertility. What makes this category of miscarriage unique is that women who are given this diagnosis in Western medicine have had three consecutive miscarriages. Why could this happen and what can be done about it?
“My story begins over 5 years ago after experiencing multiple miscarriages. The heartache I had experienced was so great that I had to try to do something to help myself before I tried to get pregnant again. I was newly enrolled in acupuncture school and was discussing my search for a fertility acupuncturist with a classmate. It turns out that this classmate was a former employee of Dr. Rozenn’s, and I was told, “Everyone I saw go through Dr. Rozenn’s office that followed her fertility plan ended up with a baby”. I was sold!-Happy Mom, Santa Cruz
There are several factors that can cause Recurrent Miscarriage including:
- Thyroid antibodies and other types of thyroid dysfunction
- Please see my Thyroid and Fertility talk on the home page
- Celiac disease, Candida and leaky gut disorder
- Microbes in the gut and poor nutritional uptake can damage a fetus. These difficulties are not always apparent. Sometimes patients need an objective viewpoint and laboratory tests to rule out or confirm such issues.
- Clotting factor issues leading to blood clots that obstruct the growing fetus’s blood supply
- There are several clotting factors which can lead to the destruction of the placenta such as Factor V Leiden
- Genetic issues such as the inability to metabolize folic acid
- One common variant is the MTHFR homo or heterozygus gene
- Can cause low progesterone as well as other complications
- Uterine abnormalities such as a heart shaped uterus, fibroids, or latent uterine infections
- Sometimes surgery or antibiotics are required to correct for these issues, but Oriental medicine can work synergistically for a better outcome
It is never too soon to facilitate pregnancy wellness. Every women who wants to be pregnant dreads the possibility of a miscarriage. There are specific steps I can take to check on her and the pregnancy. I can either reassure her that everything looks fine and normal, or present a treatment plan with solutions for potential obstacles to a healthy pregnancy.
There is so much research from China, Japan, and around the world showing that Oriental medicine techniques can optimize pregnancy, from decreasing early pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness to facilitating the health of the embryo. It is never too late to start Oriental Medicine treatment.
Pregnant and wanting to safeguard the baby-select New Patient Appointment
Trying to conceive, with one or more miscarriages, select Women’s Fertility Visit (or better yet, Couple’s Fertility Visit)! If you and your partner want to be seen, but if you can not book a Couple’s Fertility Visit in a timely manner, talk to us. We can book you both for a reduced rate!