Vaginal bleeding during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy is called a threatened miscarriage. This does not necessarily mean a woman will miscarry but she may have an increased chance of having a miscarriage.
It is hard to say how many women miscarry because some women are unaware if it occurs early (normally during the first 8 weeks); the bleeding is seen as a heavy menstrual period. The majority of miscarriages occur in the first trimester (first 12 weeks).
Causes of Miscarriage
The following can be causes of miscarriage:
- chromosomal abnormalities (most common causes for early miscarriages)
- hormonal changes, like low progesterone levels (normally occurs before 10 weeks)
- teratogenic substances that disrupt fetal growth and produce malformations, including some drugs (recreational, prescription, or over-the-counter), alcohol (more than an occasional drink), poisons, pesticides, radiation, and maternal infections from the TORCH group (toxoplasmosis, rubella, cytomegalovirus, herpes virus type 2)
- an unusually shaped uterus (may not be able to expand) or a weakened cervix (opens too soon) – both of these problems usually occur after 12 weeks as the fetus goes through a very rapid growth spurt
Sexually transmitted diseases (like syphilis), illnesses (like chicken pox), health problems (like diabetes), and high stress levels are other causes of miscarriages.
Threatened Miscarriage Signs
Threatened miscarriage signs include:
Vaginal bleeding. Spotting is relatively common during pregnancy and usually occurs following intercourse or exercise due to trauma to the highly vascular cervix. Bleeding can be due to the loss of pregnancy (shedding of the inner lining of the uterus, including the egg or fetus) or it can be due to another complication like an infection (if treated, the chance of miscarriage decreases).
Stomach cramps and/or low backache. It can be normal to have some stomach discomfort or backaches during the early stages of pregnancy. However, women who have these signs with vaginal bleeding are more at risk of having a miscarriage.
Remedies for Threatened Miscarriage
If you experience any vaginal bleeding (or spotting) during your pregnancy, report it to your doctor.
If the cervix is closed, the bleeding is minimal, and other problems have been ruled out, your doctor will most likely prescribe pelvic rest (no intercourse, no tampons, and no douching) for a period of time and may also recommend reducing vigorous activities.
Herbs that may help a threatened miscarriage include:
- red raspberry
- false unicorn
- cramp bark
- black haw
- partridge berry
- teasel root
According to Dr. John R. Christopher, author of School of Natural Healing, "Lobelia is a selective herb. When a fetus is dead, or in an extremely weakened condition, lobelia will cause it to abort. However, if the fetus is well and healthy, and the mother is weak, it will cause the mother to heal and strengthen, enabling her to carry the child until the proper time for delivery."
Before taking any herbs, consult with your doctor and preferably a qualified herbalist.
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