A Complete Guide to Miscarriage at Home

a_complete_guide_to_miscarriage_at_home

Is Miscarriage Normal?

Pregnancy and miscarriage carry a ton of emotions, and one may feel devastated or uneasy when going through a natural miscarriage. Although this is can be an extremely tough time mentally and physically, it may be comforting to know you’re not alone. 

An estimated 10%-20% of women who know they are pregnant will have a miscarriage. Also, most women (87%) who do experience a miscarriage will have a successful pregnancy and birth following that miscarriage. 

Maybe your pregnancy test was positive after missing your period, or some women have that gut feeling without having missed a period yet. Feeling excited, scared, happy, nervous, or just numb are all in the normal range of emotions when you first discover a pregnancy. Or maybe you’ve been trying for months to get pregnant and now you finally are. 

Just when you feel like you are beginning to get comfortable with your pregnancy, you start to have some spotting, maybe a little red bleeding, and then some light cramping. 

Next Steps

Contacting your health care provider and making them aware of what is going on is important. They may offer to have an ultrasound or blood work done. The bleeding becomes heavier and the cramping gets stronger and you no longer have the pregnancy symptoms you were starting to feel prior. Unfortunately, you are most likely experiencing a miscarriage. 

If your body is already starting to bleed and cramp, this is a sign your body is getting ready to expel the products of conception. Sometimes there’s not an actual fetus present. This means it could be a chemical pregnancy with no fetus, just a gestational sac. 

If there are no complications, you can safely miscarry at home. You may want to have some ibuprofen on hand and a hot water bottle. Soaking in a warm bath can also be very soothing. The worst of it can take about 2 hours with some pretty intense cramping and heavy bleeding. 

When to Seek Help

You would need to seek out medical care if you have pain that you cannot tolerate, or if you begin to hemorrhage. The definition of a hemorrhage is, soaking a maxi pad to where you can wring it out, and doing this for 2 hours. Of course, if the bleeding is much heavier than that or you feel unsafe, don’t wait to get medical help. 

Missed Miscarriage

A ‘missed miscarriage’ is where the fetus stops growing but there’s no signs of bleeding or cramping right away. It’s usually during the first ultrasound that this will be diagnosed. Or if you were following the beta HCG hormone, and it isn’t doubling or rising appropriately in the first 10 weeks, a miscarriage can be diagnosed this way, as well. 

If you do have a missed miscarriage, do not wait before seeing your provider for an intervention. It is dangerous for the pregnancy to sit in your womb for months, as it can cause some dangerous bleeding when the natural miscarriage begins. You will most likely be given several options, depending on the preference of the provider. It is always best to be informed ahead of time, in case your provider does not offer all the common or available options. 

Intervention Options for Missed Miscarriage

  • D&C or Dilation and Curettage

A D&C is a fairly common procedure to eliminate uterine lining and pregnancy contents. This procedure is very safe and complications are rare. Light spotting and cramping is common in the first few days after a D&C. 

  • Medications

Medications like Misoprostol are also an option, which cause your uterus to cramp. This process usually takes about 24 hours to complete. This option is also very safe and complications are rare.  

Miscarriage is Common

Miscarriage is very common, you would have to have 3 in a row before it is considered a medical problem. An option is to see a Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor to have a consult regarding any specific blood tests needed to determine if you have a genetic predisposition to miscarriage. These may include: Anticardiolipin, TSH, Lupus anticoagulant, beta 2 glycoprotein, and maternal karyotype. 

Some providers will recommend taking a baby aspirin every day to reduce the risk of miscarriage. And sometimes they may recommend taking progesterone to help you maintain the pregnancy. These all depend on the results of the blood tests and the actual medical diagnosis that is causing the miscarriages.

Next Cycle and/or Pregnancy After Miscarriage 

You can have your beta HCG levels checked, or simply wait for your next cycle. You should have a period by 4-6 weeks after the miscarriage. If you don’t have your cycle within 4-6 weeks, contact your care provider for further testing or ultrasounds. It is recommended to actively prevent pregnancy for 2 cycles following a miscarriage to lower your risk of having another miscarriage right away.

Holistic Gynecology and Pregnancy Services

If you are looking for holistic gynecology and pregnancy services, including home birth and water birth in South Florida, contact Midwife 360 for all of your questions and needs.

Natural Birth After C-Section

Can I have a vaginal birth if I already had a c section?

The short answer is, “YES! YOU CAN!” While the long answer requires a conversation about various risks – risks of a VBAC, or vaginal birth after cesarean, AND risks of repeat surgery. Unfortunately, it is the second set of risks that are routinely left out of the conversation when you speak with a hospital provider (OB or CNM) about it. And, also, unfortunately, these same providers often offer the VBAC and then find a reason at the end of the pregnancy that either induction of labor is ‘necessary’ (not the best plan for a successful VBAC) or a repeat surgery if the pregnancy goes beyond 39 or 40 weeks. 

Where can I have a successful VBAC?

This drives many women to seek an out-of-hospital birth provider for their planned VBAC, even though everyone agrees that the hospital is the best place due to the easy and quick access to emergency services. Since VBAC is prohibited in Birth Centers, this leaves home birth as the only option. And home birth is not for everyone. It is certainly not the best idea for someone whose main reason for choosing it is to avoid the hospital. It is always better to run towards something rather than running away from something. In other words, the choice to have a home birth should be driven by the desire to have your baby in the comfort and safety of your home, not by the fear of the hospital.

Successful home birth requires dedication and preparation

We have seen a situation like this where the client chose to have her baby with us because of her fear of having another c section and her inability to find a hospital provider who would support her decision to birth vaginally. She did not have a doula or take a birth preparation class. (These are 2 of Midwife360’s 3 keys to successful, efficient birthing. The 3rd is using the birth tub.) Consequently, she was unprepared and unsure when her labor did start, and did not request the midwife presence in a timely manner. She birthed on the toilet and her baby actually went into the toilet! They had the midwife on the phone throughout the process and she was able to guide them verbally (the part about the toilet came out later!) and everything turned out well. 

This is an example of how normal the process is for most people – even those who have had previous c sections – and for most babies. Babies are resilient and born to survive and know how to start breathing with little to no help in most cases.

Most predictions by OB providers are wrong

“Your baby is breech, and even if it turns, your pelvis is too small to push. There’s an 80% chance you’ll have to have a c section if you try, and then it would be an emergency surgery, which is more dangerous. So let’s just schedule the c section as this will be safer.”

I’ve heard this same speech from many clients over the years. This particular client told us this story of her first birth – the baby turned out to be 5#5oz. When she got pregnant the second time, they said she would have to have another surgery – it would be safer, they said. “But my mom had a c section and then pushed my brother out right after – he was over 10# – can’t I at least try?” “No”, they said, “it’s not safe”. There was no discussion of the risks of surgery, all focus is on the risks of trying a vaginal birth.

You can do it!

When this woman got pregnant a third time, she knew that she could birth her baby vaginally. She drove an hour away from her home to find a provider that believed in her and would support her. And although she did not take advantage of the 3 keys to success, (she used the birth tub only), she was so determined and dedicated that she was able to adequately prepare herself mentally for the big day. She was able to birth an 8#3oz baby vaginally in the birth tub with her sisters, husband, mother-in-law, and daughters all present and cheering her on! She pushed for over 2 hours, but barely tore and the baby came out quickly with no problems.

Our bodies and our babies are made for birth

When will OB doctors and other birth providers stop telling women what their bodies cannot do? Women are created with the social imperative to create life and deliver it to the outside world. Among many other things, we are very well designed birthing machines! If you didn’t know this already, then you do now!

Be empowered, be informed, stand up for yourself and your baby!

High-tech Childbirth is Not Always Better

Baby girl few minutes after the birth

America excels in high-tech medicine

When it comes to healthcare and medicine, America is the greatest country in the world. If you get into a car crash or have a heart attack, or need a life-saving surgery, then you are very grateful to have that happen in the US of A. However, this statement is not true if you are pregnant and healthy. It is well known that the US scores shamefully low on the two standards used worldwide to evaluate how well a country is doing in the area of childbirth – infant mortality and maternal mortality. And it’s not a mystery as to why this is the case. We know that the standard interventions performed on pregnant women in the hospital on low-risk, healthy moms and babies are not evidence based. Withholding food and fluids by mouth.  Limiting movement and positioning in labor.  Use of continuous fetal monitoring for low risk labors.  Non-medically indicated inductions.  Immediate cord clamping.  Overuse of Pitocin for labor augmentation. All of these standard interventions can lead to perceived and real problems that trigger the cascade of events leading to an operative delivery – forceps, vacuum extraction, or cesarean (and occasionally a cesarean with forceps or vacuum delivery!).

Low-tech better for physiologic childbirth

When it comes to childbirth, high tech is not better than low tech. I have been privileged to attend many out of hospital births and many more in hospital births. Even a ‘normal’ birth in the hospital typically comes with continuous fetal monitoring and epidural. And unless it is the middle of the night and the lights are kept dimmed, the nurses use intermittent monitoring, the cord is left alone for at least 10-15 minutes, and the baby is kept on the mother AT ALL TIMES, no hospital birth worker has truly witnessed natural birth. There are many, many videos of home birth on the internet and it can be seen time and again the beauty and wonder of birth as it is meant to be.

Out-of-hospital birth should be first-line care for all low-risk childbirth

We have such great prenatal care standards, that any significant problem with the mom or the baby will most likely be detected prior to labor so that a baby that may need more high tech assistance can be born in a place where she can receive that assistance in a timely manner. It is so unlikely that a healthy mom and baby will have a major life-threatening problem during the birth process, that out of hospital birth and midwifery have been approved through legislation in most states. And statistics have proven that most transports from an out of hospital setting are done for non-emergent reasons. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have suggested that the out of hospital Birth Center should be the first level of care for healthy pregnant women. They recommend only moving up the chain to a hospital capable of performing a cesarean if there are risk criteria that have been demonstrated.

Low-tech interventions for childbirth

So that means in order to fix the problem, more doctors need to be trained in the low tech hand skills that are truly helpful to laboring women. These include Leopolds maneuvers (feeling the baby from the outside to determine it’s position), which, when performed properly, can assist the provider to be able to tell not only the baby’s position but if there is adequate fluid around the baby. Keeping hands out of the way other than to provide warm compresses during the actual birth. Turning a breech baby to avoid a breech delivery. Even being able to perform a breech delivery – these are skills that are slowly being lost to us because they are not being taught in medical schools. And delayed cord clamping is probably the single most important non-intervention that can be supported at a birth! We have been complacent, and have allowed an intervention – immediate clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord (that typically happens in the course of surgical birth) – to become standard of care for all births without studying the effects. It is part of the OB culture and doctors and CNMs are taught to do it without question. This is what happens when you put surgeons in charge of a physiological event.

Women’s complacency has really been the main cause of our loss of control over our bodies and our labors. It is time for us to stand up and reclaim our bodies, our labors, and our births. Support your local midwife, demand respect and evidence based care. Maintain a healthy lifestyle and prepare yourself for an out of hospital birth – it will transform your life!