Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Miscarriage and Prematurity

Rose Knit Hat by thedayhascome

We all want to see our babies come out fat, healthy, and robust. For many women though, this is not always the case. Our preterm birth rate in America is among the highest in developed nations and rising. 12.8% of pregnancies in America end in preterm births, meaning the baby is born before 36 weeks of gestation. The number of preterm births in America has risen 36% since the 1980's.

Miscarriage occurs more often than we'd like to think as well. It has been said that one in three pregnancies results in miscarriage! Most of these are missed by women, who think that their period is just a little late that month. Miscarriages, when they happen, are often devastating and defeating for a woman. In this society it is rarely talked about, and often downplayed if brought to light.

I just wanted to briefly address these issues in terms of midwifery care and advice. In terms of preventing preterm labor, there are some herbs that I recommend.
  • Cramp bark and black haw are a combination often used to prevent preterm labor. They can be taken every two hours, two droppers-ful.
  • I advise, lots of water, rest and nourishment, also ask your health care provider to test for urinary tract infection.
  • False unicorn root (yes, that is it's real name!), can help when there are signs of preterm labor. Check with your local herbalist for dosages.
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to ensure the health and growth of a preterm infant is kangaroo care. A recent study showed that kangaroo care could reduce newborn deaths by up to 50% worldwide. Kangaroo care is typically defined as skin to skin contact between mother and baby, exclusive breastfeeding, and supporting the infant/mother unit, as one unit, as if mom were still pregnant.

Breastfeeding is a bit tricky with preterm infants as they tire easy from trying to get the milk out, but it is so important for these babies. Formula increases the chances of babies getting infections, something preterm babies have a much harder time fighting off.
  • Kangaroo care increases the chances of successful breastfeeding.
  • Early attempts at the breast for the preterm baby is important.
  • Swabbing the babies mouth with your colostrum is even beneficial if for some reason you and baby have to be separated in the beginning. This is something dad, or grandma can easily do.
  • Continued pumping and hand expression by the mother will ensure a good milk supply.
  • If the baby is unable to suck at the breast, he can take the mother's pumped milk in many forms, cup, finger, syringe. See here for more details.

Miscarriage is probably one of the most frequent things I am asked to counsel women about. Not all bleeding and cramping leads to miscarriage though.
  • Red raspberry leaf drunk throughout the pregnancy is a good uterine tonic and while there is no evidence that it will prevent miscarriage it can nourish the uterus.
  • Vitex, otherwise known as chasteberry, is a great herb at preventing miscarriage when there is a history of it, or when there is bleeding and cramping. When there is bleeding take two droppersful every two hours.
  • Acupuncture can also be of great aid to women who have had a history of miscarriage or are actively bleeding.
  • Finally, if you have had frequent miscarriages, there are a lot of interesting studies out about the link between miscarriages and celiac disease. You might want to ask your doctor about getting tested for this. If you do have it, it's a somewhat simple fix towards carrying a pregnancy full term.
And of course we cannot forget the spiritual component of anything. I came across these amazing pieces of advice on Sunnipath. I will summarize a couple of the nuggets of wisdom below:

  • Anyone who, whilst placing his hand on the stomach of his pregnant wife, repeats Ya Mubdi ( O Originator) 99 times at the time of suhur (before Fajr), neither will she have a miscarriage nor will she give birth prematurely, insha Allah.
  • If an expectant woman writes Sura Al-Haqqa (in the 29 Juz) and wears it as an amulet (ta`weez), it will protect the unborn child from physical, mental and spiritual calamities, insha Allah.
May Allah grant all of you blessed pregnancies!

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