Miscarriage - Life after Miscarriage
Updated: Apr 5
“Smiling while my heart is aching for the loss of a child I never quite got to meet, yet strangely so familiar on a soul level. Never have I yearned for anything as much in my entire universe”. Alysia Raftery
This is not a fun topic. It’s a blog that I’ve avoided for many years, even talking about is a trigger. But I strongly believe that knowledge builds strength and I wish for couples to be empowered and proactive. Chances are if you are reading this, you may be trying for a baby and or experienced miscarriage before. I’m sorry for your loss, and my aim is to fill you up with knowledge and power over your body and some tools you and your partner can go into your next pregnancy knowing.
Can I please answer the first question?
There is nothing wrong with you.
Due to reason X your body may not be quite ready to hold the baby to full term. Reason X is what I would like to empower you with today.
According to the international statistics about 15% pregnancy end in miscarriage.
Around 30% pregnancies are lost between conception and 6 weeks.
Approximately 70% conceptions fail to get to live birth.
Most miscarriages won’t be investigated until they are deemed as Recurrent miscarriage. Which is usually after 3 consecutive miscarriages. The message is to keep trying your luck and see how you go. If you are an older couple thinking you have limited time, this puts a lot of stress to keep trying.
The responsibility of having a baby does not fall entirely on the woman. The health of a successful pregnancy relies on two factors, a healthy egg and a healthy sperm. Your partner needs to be involved, for preparation, investigation and support during the journey.
Hormones Gone Bananas
Progesterone, I like to call the “pregnancy hormone” is very important to keep the lining of the endometrium nice, thick and welcoming for the new embryo to attach and be nurtured while the placenta is being formed. Progesterone is a big deal in the fertility journey just after ovulation and during pregnancy. If progesterone levels fall, the lining may shed and cause menstruation. Higher levels of oestrogen can be linked with lower levels of progesterone, some instances are endometriosis, PCOS, fibroids.
PCOS patients are more likely to suffer with miscarriage due to some possible reasons. PCOS people can have elevated androgens, obesity and high insulin in the blood. We know that PCOS patients may have irregular cycles usually longer between periods and this can lead to lowered oestrogen and progesterone receptors in the endometrium, which is needed for pregnancy.
Please note if you are diagnosed with a condition such as PCOS, don’t be resigned to expect miscarriages, many PCOS people thrive in pregnancy as testosterone (usually high in PCOS) is required for pregnancy. Many PCOS patients fall pregnant soon after trying and remain well during pregnancy.
Oral contraceptive pill has had a higher incidence of stillbirths, miscarriages and congenital abnormalities. A study showed that Women that stopped using the pill and fell pregnant after one month were at higher risk for miscarriage. (4) Although studies are conflicting the idea behind birth control pills is implantation failure that can be due to immune cells or cytokines in the endometrium. When the pill has been taken for a period of over 2 years the pill can cause endometrial atrophy and modify local factors in the endometrium that can increase the risk of miscarriage. Ideally allow 4-6 months of ceasing birth control pills between trying to conceive.
Autoimmune “Is your own army invading your uterine cells”.
Antibodies are here for our protection; they are our bodies soldiers and protect what goes in and out of our cells. However, if a person has a higher number of certain antibodies then an increase in unsuccessful pregnancy can occur.
Elevated maternal thyroid antibodies are linked to infertility, miscarriage and poor cognitive function.
Antiphospholipid antibodies are thought to be involved in recurrent miscarriage. They can affect implantation and early embryonic development. Antinuclear antibodies ANA can impact IVF rates were lowered. An improvement with prednisolone from the fertility specialist improved pregnancy outcomes.
You can discuss these tests with your doctor or gynaecologist.
Vitamin A has been observed to be low in females suffering from habitual miscarriage. Leading to a suggestion that a decrease in antioxidant status may be a factor contributing to miscarriage.
Zinc is essential a healthy reproductive system. This includes healthy eggs and sperm and the production of hormones especially progesterone for the ladies and testosterone for the guys.
Eating a healthy diet before conception and during pregnancy is essential for healthy egg and sperm production and maintaining a vital pregnancy.
Finding the right foods can be unique to you. The idea is to eat a low inflammatory menu that contain healthy nutrients especially folate, healthy fats and protein for your body and baby development. Some foods that can trigger inflammation include diary, gluten, wheat, soy, sugar, even fructose intolerance or high fodmap foods can trigger an inflammatory reaction anywhere in the body. Be sure to ask for Alysia's Fertility Menu eating plan during a Naturopathic Consultation.
Caffeine - consumption of caffeine and coffee can increase the risk of miscarriage. It seems to be dose dependant. In a study pregnancy loss rose by 19% for every increase in caffeine intake of 150 mg/day(9). The theory behind it is caffeine constricts blood vessels around your uterus and placenta leading to less blood and nutrient supply to baby and inhibits growth. Another study showed that caffeine consumption of only half a cup of coffee a day lead to small birth weight, and generally smaller sized babies, which can increased the demands to increase birth weight and risk for diabetes, heart disease later in life. It is proposed that caffeine can increase foetal stress hormones in babies (10). Caffeine is found in coffee, dark chocolate, soft drinks/sodas, and energy drinks.
MTHFR – This is an inherited gene mutation found in up to 50% of the population. If one or both partners carry the mutation, then miscarriage chances are increased. The gene is responsible for regulating the 5-MTHFR enzyme which creates active folate and converting a rather inflammatory amino acid known as homocysteine into a healthy amino acid methionine. This process helps regulate your DNA which is important for nourished cells, resilient egg and sperm quality, healthy foetal tissue and uterine growth, quality blood and haemoglobin formation.
How does MTHFR cause miscarriage?
Women carrying this MTHFR gene variant on average reported having nearly 4 miscarriages throughout their lives. (2) Low levels of folate may be associated with elevated levels of homocysteine which may contribute to:
Blood clot in placenta, or damage blood vessels in placenta
Poor quality uterine tissue, which can be difficult to sustain pregnancy.
Mental health implications including anxiety and depression.
Low folate levels increase the risk of genetic and developmental defects in the foetus and abnormal placental growth.
Toxicity – The average woman is exposed to 500 chemicals a day.
Today we are constantly surrounded by toxins. Whether it’s from inflammatory foods, sugar, trans fats, chemicals found in make ups, skin care, environment, pesticides sprayed onto our foods or chemicals in our water. The average female exposes herself to over 500 toxic chemicals a day. Lipsticks contain heavy metals, and these can be reapplied many times in a day. Other items that can contain chemicals that can disrupt your endocrine system are moisturising creams, scented candles, talc powder, and perfumes. I feel it is important to reflect on how many toxins you may be exposed to daily and minimise exposure to the best of your ability. Workers such as hairdressers, laboratory workers, printers, painters, artists, farmers, retail handling receipts, and or dental assistants can be at an increased risk.
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals found in our homes, workplaces, cars and environment. They can interfere with our own hormone function and production in our body. Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic can also show endocrine disruption. Lead has been associated with increased risk of miscarriage and still birth. Lead can cross the placenta and effect the hormonal environment needed for pregnancy. Mercury found in dental fillings and large fish spontaneous miscarriage and reduced fertility. Heavy metals be difficult for the body to breakdown and hence stored in fat cells, bones and organs.
Phthalates are chemicals found in plastics, lubricants and their main function is to make things flexible. They are found in children’s toys, plastic water bottles, medical equipment IV tubes, cosmetics, perfumes and food packaging. They can be absorbed into the body through mouth from food, water, absorbed through the skin (skin is our largest organ), and inhaled through polluted air.
The effects of phthalates have been shown to reduce LH (we need a surge of LH for pregnancy), increase FSH (hello menopause), delay ovulation, and impair sex hormonal production needed for pregnancy support. They have also been associated with weight gain known as obesogens that increase BMI and waist measurements. (7) Even increase in Insulin Resistance which can be a hormonal cause of miscarriage according to Angela Hywood fertility specialist.
Garlic in a capsule has been studied on the removal the toxic metals out of the body. Dosage required in a consult as each person is an individual with different requirements. Herbs such as Silybum may also help remove toxins.
Sperm analysis looks at morphology this is the study of the shape of the sperm. A DNA fragmentation index or Sperm chromatin structure assay is a specialist DNA sperm test. Scientists can unravel the DNA and look at the sperm how much is damaged and how much is intact. A DNA in males’ sperm that is broken beyond 15% is the highest predictive factory for miscarriage. Standard sperm analysis does not look at the DNA fragmentation, so I recommend you request this test, through a fertility specialist.
Luckily, sperm health can be helped via naturopathy with nutritional antioxidants, amino acids and herbs. The main minerals and antioxidants that may help are zinc, se, coq10, polygonum, arginine, dosages are according to each individual so be sure to book in for a Naturopathic Consultation for you and your partner. Healthy sperm don’t like to be overheated, and regular ejaculation every 3 days is advised. Bike riders beware as excess cycling can supress sperm counts.
Mindset – The body listens
Checking in with your thoughts. Our thoughts are powerful and the body listens to what they say. Every day getting into a healthy habit of checking in with the current thought pattern. Are your thoughts coming from a space of fear, insecurity or hopelessness? Or could you open your mindset to a more calming space by giving yourself positive thoughts of hope, possibility, and safety.
For example, these thoughts are coming from a space of fear such as “My body is failing me”,
“I’m too old”, “My eggs are bad” to a more positive mindset such as:
“My body is safely nourishing my womb and knows what to do to remain vital”.
“There is something in my heart and soul that is telling me to push through this and anything is possible”.
“Other woman my age have done this, and so can I”.
A fertile body needs nourishment not only from food, supplements, or yoga but from the connection between your soul, the ability to tap into your creative side and open yourself up to joy and love. If you are always living in a fight or flight mode, or constantly attacking yourself, or striving to do more, or always comparing yourself to others, or regretting the past, chances are your body may listen and think this is not a safe place to grow a baby.
Instead choose to let go of cluttered or negative thoughts that no longer serve you. Pausing and listening to the conversation in your mind, by connecting with yourself daily and showing compassion by forgiving yourself.
Creating a fertile environment that is safe, sacred, creative, trusting, and joyful.
Sending love to you “Superstars” X
Alysia Raftery degree qualified Naturopath has a special passion in Women’s Hormonal Health and fertility. She has a personal family history of fertility issues, now with 3 children, and has been inspired to support couples throughout the journey. Over the 13 years working in hormones and natural fertility, Alysia has designed a fertility eating plan that is given to her patients when trying to conceive. Alysia looks at the whole person, their lifestyle, stress factors, nutrition, sleep quality and daily movement and creates a joyful fertility journey with each couple.
If you wish to be on the list, please book in for a Naturopathy Hormonal Consultation or Couples Fertility Consultation where we can explore you and your partners fertility journey.
3. Naish Francesca, The complete guide to Natural Fertility 1991.
5. Aimee Raupp, Yes you can get pregnant, 2012
7. Male and Female Infertility – Effective Natural Solutions Angela Hywood, Berris Burgoyne 2009.