Acupuncture for Miscarriage and Recurrent Pregnancy Loss
What is recurrent pregnancy loss?
Recurrent miscarriage or recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) is defined as two or more consecutive pregnancy losses.
Miscarriages in the first trimester are thought to be as high as 50% with many women not even realizing that they are pregnant before miscarrying. After having one miscarriage, most women go on to have a healthy pregnancy and even for women who have had six or more pregnancy losses, the overwhelming majority of them go on to have a baby. If you have had two miscarriages in a row, you should see a medical practitioner for a basic testing workup to check for miscarriage causes such as uterine shape problems, blood clotting disorders, and possible hormonal imbalances.
Women who have had recurrent pregnancy losses have higher than average odds of developing anxiety and depression for obvious reasons. Recent studies show that women who have regular supportive care during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy dramatically reduce the number of unexplained miscarriages. Care includes regular medical and emotional check-ins with midwives or doctors and a regular practice of deep relaxation.
How can Chinese medicine help?
Studies have shown that a combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbal therapy and supplements can help balance hormones and reduce the risk of miscarriage.
Acupuncture helps reduce the risk of miscarriage by:
- Relaxing the body and reducing stress levels to prevent early uterine contractions.
- Increasing the blood flow to the ovaries to nourish the developing follicles and create better egg quality and embryos.
- Increasing blood flow to the testicles for improved sperm quality to optimize the male’s contribution to embryo quality. (This is particularly important in couples undergoing ICSI.)
- Regulating the body’s natural hormonal production, which in turn improves ovarian function, egg quality, and proper progesterone levels.
- Nourishing the developing fetus by improving the blood flow to the placenta and preventing uterine contractions.
In the case of threatened miscarriage or inevitable miscarriage, acupuncture is helpful for:
- Decreasing symptoms such as bleeding, low back ache and abdominal cramps.
- Assisting women, by promoting a sense of calm, to cope with the emotional aspects of miscarriage or a threatened miscarriage.
- Restoring energy and preparing the body for another pregnancy.
Treatment at first may consist of bi-weekly acupuncture visits with possible herbal recommendations. Visits may continue weekly until the pregnancy is safely established.
If you have a tendency toward feeling cold, the following tips may be helpful: Avoid cold, raw foods and cold water.Consume warming foods like chicken or miso soup, rice or oat porridge with cinnamon and stir-fried or roasted vegetables.
If you have a tendency toward feeling warm or hot, the following tips may be helpful: Avoid coffee, alcohol, sugar and strong spices.Consume cooling foods like potatoes, yams, avocados, pears, tofu, and aduki or kidney beans. Limit pungent spices (cayenne pepper, chilli and ginger).Incorporate additional cooling foods like peppermint tea, green salads and fruits such as apples, bananas, grapefruit and pears.
Your practitioner may provide you with with a more individualized dietary plan.
You can manage your stress with 15 minutes a day of breathing, listening to music, or walking. Eventually you may want to meditate or practice mindfulness. Other activities that can reduce stress are yoga, tai chi, cardio exercise, reducing work commitments, and surrounding yourself with friends and family. Give yourself the gift of rest in the form of time off from work or extra childcare if needed.