Holistic Healing For Recurrent Miscarriage
Every case of miscarriage is unique, and understanding the “why” will involve an in-depth analysis of the health status of both the woman and the man trying to conceive. With that being said, every couple’s ability to become pregnant is deeply influenced by an intricate interaction of psychosocial, psychological, physical, spiritual, and emotional factors. These can be consciously and compassionately worked on to enhance conception. Altering mindset, physical health, and spiritual wellbeing is a process and not an event. This means time and whole-hearted effort are essential to successfully conceiving. Whether you’ve experienced a miscarriage or more than one in the past, or are planning on becoming pregnant, this guide will review the possible factors that can lead to infertility and miscarriages, and will recommend steps that can be taken to enhance fertility.
It’s important to consider that about half of all cases of infertility are due to random genetic mutations and the other half are due to lifestyle and environmental factors. About 5% of women have recurrent miscarriages, defined as three or more losses. The overwhelmingly good news is that the majority of these cases can be reconciled, leading to the possibility of pregnancy. Despite the loss and difficult emotions that arise as a result of experiencing a miscarriage, try to maintain hope and a positive mindset. Approach these recommendations gently and give both yourself and your partner plenty of compassion. The health of your eggs, your hormonal balance, creating a healthy placenta, building nutrient storage for your baby, and creating a robust reproductive system and body all play a role in the prevention of recurrent miscarriage. The goal is to create an ideal environment for your body and baby to thrive in during pregnancy, and this preparation should begin well before conception.
This guide will dive into the herbal, supplemental, nutritional, and lifestyle suggestions to make a habit of both prior to conception and during pregnancy to significantly reduce the chance of experiencing a miscarriage.
Common Causes of Recurrent Miscarriages
Hormone imbalances can often lead to difficulties with pregnancy. Adequate levels of progesterone are required to prep the uterine lining for conception, and progesterone can easily be unbalanced by overly-high levels of estrogen as these two hormones must be in balanced proportions.
Insulin resistance, also referred to as pre-diabetes, causes high levels of blood sugar, estrogen, and testosterone while also lowering progesterone. This can lead to failure of implantation or miscarriage.
Untreated hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) can also lead to recurrent miscarriage and second/third-trimester loss. Thyroid issues are pervasive in unexplained infertility and miscarriages. They can cause premature ovarian failure, ovulation disorders, and recurrent miscarriage.
If you suffer from hormonal imbalances or suspect that they may be an underlying issue, speak with a holistic practitioner to discuss individualized healing options.
Chronic stress raises norepinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol levels, which unbalances all of the sex hormones. High-stress hormones divert energy away from the reproductive system and to the organs necessary for survival.
Immotile and slow sperm can also play a role. Unhealthy sperm may not be motile enough to reach and penetrate the egg.
Signs of Hormonal Imbalance:
Anovulation (lack of ovulation)
Intense menstrual cramps
A luteal phase that is shorter than 10 days
More than two days of premenstrual spotting or postmenstrual brown bleeding
Brown blood during menstruation, scanty bleeding, or a cycle that is too long or too short. A healthy cycle should last 3-4 days with fresh red blood.
An irregular cycle, which is also commonly accompanied by acne, excessive body hair, weight gain, and excessive cervical fluid
Hormonal Conditions That Can Affect Fertility:
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Luteinized unruptured follicle (LUF) syndrome
Premature ovarian aging
Factors That Enhance Fertility
Nutrition (this includes your partner!)
Cleansing and detoxifying the body helps to support the liver in ridding the body of unwanted hormones and improves uterine circulation and tone. Drink dandelion & burdock infusions to enhance liver cleansing prior to conception. You can also take a milk thistle tincture once a day in a splash of water before bed. This will help to prepare the body for conception.
A nutrient-dense diet should be followed for at least three months before trying to conceive. This will improve the health of the egg and sperm, help to achieve hormonal balance, create a healthy placenta, build nutrient storages for the baby, and promote an overall healthy reproductive system. Make sure that the majority of your diet is coming from plant-based foods, as these are high in nutrients and easy for the body to break down and absorb. Regular meals + consistent meal times will also help to support healthy blood sugar levels.
Increase B vitamins & magnesium-rich foods. Vitamin B6 and magnesium are specifically needed to maintain a healthy pregnancy, so consuming foods like seeds, nuts, egg yolks, legumes, and dark green leafy vegetables will be extremely beneficial. Consume organic food whenever possible, as this will help to reduce environmental toxins from building up in the body. (If you’re on a budget, check out the Environmental Working Group’s list of the dirty dozen, which are the fruits and vegetables it’s most important to buy organic due to these crops’ high exposure to pesticides and the thin skin of these foods. By contrast, the clean 15 have lower exposure to pesticides and so the conventional versions are safer to eat.)
Increase antioxidant-rich foods as these help to reduce oxidative stress in the body, which can contribute to miscarriage if it accumulates too much. Antioxidants can be found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables such as berries, cherries, goji berries, carrots, tomatoes, and green leafy vegetables.
Include plenty of healthy fats in your diet, such as cold-water fish, walnuts and other nuts, hemp hearts, chia seeds, flax seeds, coconut oil, olive oil, and avocados to help fight inflammation, regulate + build hormones, and balance blood sugar levels.
It’s also important to consume adequate amounts of cholesterol. Cholesterol is known as the “mother hormone” because it’s the precursor to the production of all of the sex hormones. Good sources of cholesterol include pasture-raised organic eggs, coconut oil, wild-caught fish and seafood, avocados, grass-fed butter and ghee, and raw nuts and seeds.
Avoid inflammatory & toxic foods. Inflammation causes stress in the body, which creates chaos for our hormones and liver, negatively affecting fertility. Inflammatory foods such as processed, high sugar foods should be eliminated or limited to special occasions for at least 6-8 weeks before you’re thinking about trying to conceive. Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame should also be removed from your diet as they may ruin a female’s sexual response and induce male sexual dysfunction. Beyond this, aspartame disrupts fetal development by aborting it or inducing defects. Replace inflammatory foods with foods known for their anti-inflammatory properties, such as fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, and spices such as turmeric.
Avoid caffeine & alcohol as they can increase the length of time it takes to become pregnant. If you smoke or drink alcohol (future fathers, too), try to eliminate it for at least 6-8 weeks prior to conception, as this will give your body enough time to detoxify and to kick the habit, if needed.
Following these tips will create the ideal environment for your baby to thrive in. Preconception nourishment ensures that there’s an adequate supply of nutritional factors essential for healthy sperm and eggs, and therefore fetal development. The generation of eggs and sperm takes approximately three months, so it’s vital that pregnancy preparation and optimal nutrition are undertaken for at least that length of time prior to trying to conceive.
Try yoni steaming. Steaming helps to improve stagnation and remove old residue from the vaginal canal and womb space. If tissue from the miscarriage has not properly cleansed, the body identifies it as a foreign substance. This activates muscles in the abdomen to attempt to push it out of the body. These muscle contractions result in painful cramps. Steaming also supports spiritual and emotional cleansing and healing by reconnecting a woman with her feminine center and power, especially after a miscarriage. Steam more regularly after a miscarriage and then 1-3x per month on an ongoing basis prior to conception. Besides cleansing the uterus, doing vaginal steams can also speed up blood flow and improve circulation, which enhances the body’s own cleansing mechanisms.
Adding herbs to the process can enhance the effects. Beneficial herbs for yoni steaming include lavender, white sage, nettle, red raspberry, chamomile, dandelion, mugwort, and rose. Choose herbs that resonate with you. You can also look for steam practitioners in your area if you prefer not to do this at home.
*Do not steam during your period or after ovulation if you’re trying to get pregnant, or if there is excess heat in your body due to fever, hot flashes, or night sweats.
Abdominal massage increases circulation in the uterus, clears adhesions and congestion, and is especially helpful for women with PCOS, endometriosis, clotty or dark periods, and heavy menstrual cramping. Add castor oil for additional cleansing benefits.
Increase exercise as circulation is an important component of overall health and should be encouraged both before and during pregnancy. Promoting healthy circulation before pregnancy will help to support blood flow and eliminate stagnation. As long as you aren’t doing anything too strenuous, exercise can be highly beneficial and supportive of a healthy pregnancy. Ideally, a routine should be put in place before pregnancy occurs. Walking and yoga are optimal physical activities to improve uterine health as they increase circulation, improve strength and flexibility of the muscles surrounding the uterus, and don’t place too much stress on the body.
Reduce stress as elevated stress levels have been shown to induce early labor. Use yoga to quiet the mind daily, focus on your breath throughout the course of the day, take time to do absolutely nothing, sit in silence, and manifest a healthy and happy baby with visualization.
Acupuncture has also been shown to benefit those dealing with infertility as it can help to balance hormones as well as dissipate the stagnant energy that may be creating blocks in the reproductive organs. Circulation is a crucial element of fertility. Going for acupuncture once a week is highly recommended.
Lymphatic drainage massage can be helpful as this type of massage helps with fallopian tube function, decreases chronic pain, and reduces systemic inflammation.
Sleep! Irregular sleep patterns can suppress ovulation and negatively affect the thyroid and adrenal glands, which can lead to other hormonal imbalances. Sleep affects the production of hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, luteinizing hormone, and follicle stimulating hormone.
Avoid environmental toxins and do whatever you can to reduce your exposure to them. Environmental toxins include pollutants, pesticides, plastics (especially when heated), phthalates (found in many conventional shampoos, deodorants, perfumes, and nail polishes), sulfates (found in many body lotions and creams), and BPAs (found in canned items and plastics).
To avoid these toxins, do the following: Drink filtered or spring water, don’t drink or eat out of plastic containers, avoid aluminum (including canned goods and aluminum wrap), and always purchase organic meats, fruits, and vegetables.
Support sperm strength & integrity. Miscarriages commonly occur when the male partner has a low sperm count and visually abnormal sperm. Smoking severely impacts the quality and quantity of sperm. Make sure to speak with your partner if he’s a regular smoker and discuss ways to help him quit.
Adaptogenic herbs can also help to support healthy sperm. Maca has proven to be a powerful ally for increasing sperm count & mobility. Powder or capsule form is best, taken daily. Ashwagandha is also helpful for those who work high-stress jobs or who suffer from chronic stress. It can be taken 1-3x daily in tincture form mixed with a splash of water (powder form works well too but doesn’t taste very good!).
Practice visualization. Begin "calling in baby." Visualization can be supported through various tools such as journaling, meditation, new moon rituals, and intention setting. Incorporate one of these practices on a weekly basis to envision and call in your baby. Believe that it’s possible and that the baby is on its way - building trust with your body can go a long way! The baby’s spirit will come through when you’re both ready.
Please note that herbs will not stop a miscarriage that is happening because of an issue with the baby. The following remedies may be helpful if a hormonal problem is present in the mother.
Nettles are the perfect herbal ally to remineralize the body after a miscarriage.
To use: Nettles are best consumed as an infusion. To make an infusion, use roughly 2-3 tbsp of dried nettle leaf in a quart mason jar, then cover with cold water and a lid, and let it sit overnight. Drink daily.
Red raspberry leaf is an extremely beneficial herbal remedy to use when trying to maintain and develop a healthy fetus. This herb will not only improve the development of the fetus, but also tones the uterine muscle and provides a stronger environment for the baby to thrive in. Red raspberry leaf is extraordinarily beneficial to pregnant women, as it can also relieve symptoms associated with pregnancy such as morning sickness. All around, it’s a fantastic herb for both mom and baby.
To use: Red raspberry leaf is best consumed as an infusion. To make an infusion, use roughly 2-3 tbsp of dried red raspberry leaf in a quart mason jar, cover with hot water and a lid, and let it infuse for 4-8 hours. Drink daily.
Vitex (also known as chasteberry) is native to the Mediterranean and has long been used for women’s reproductive health. It can assist with issues such as PMS, menopause, infertility, and will help in the overall promotion of a healthy pregnancy. Vitex affects the pituitary gland in such a way that it corrects and regulates the secretion of progesterone from the ovaries. Progesterone is necessary for pregnancy because it preserves the uterine lining so that the embryo can attach and be nourished while the placenta is being made. If progesterone levels are low, the lining will shed, causing menstruation to begin. Vitex also corrects any hormone imbalances or deficiencies of either estrogen or progesterone, which can also lead to miscarriage.
To use: Vitex is best consumed as a tincture. Take 1-3x per day in a splash of water prior to conception.
Cramp bark is a herbal remedy used to support the uterus in sustaining a pregnancy and as a preventative measure for recurrent miscarriage. Cramp bark works to relieve uterine irritation and to relax the muscles, specifically the uterine muscles, reducing spasms. This herb slowly relaxes the nervous system as well, aiding in the minimization of stress, which is essential for the prevention of miscarriage.
To use: Cramp bark is best consumed as an infusion or tincture. To make an infusion, add 2-3 tbsp of cramp bark to a quart mason jar, cover with hot water and a lid, and let it infuse for 4-8 hours. Drink daily.
Black haw is one of the most beneficial herbs to use for recurrent miscarriages. If there is uterine cramping without cervical dilation, black haw has been used to help stop uterine spasms, contractions, bleeding, and nervous tension in early pregnancy. Black haw can also help to strengthen a weak cervix.
To use: Black haw is best consumed as a tea or infusion. To make an infusion, add 2-3 tbsp of Black haw to a quart mason jar, cover with hot water and a lid, and let it infuse for 4-8 hours. Drink 1-2 cups of tea or ½ an infusion daily upon conception.
False unicorn root is recommended for women who have experienced repeated miscarriages. It’s a powerful tonic that helps when the cervix is too loose to hold a pregnancy.
To use: Take three drops of a tincture 4-5x per day in a splash of water, beginning a month before conception and continuing throughout the first trimester.
Wild yam is a herbal remedy that contains natural progesterone and has been proven to positively affect a woman’s journey through pregnancy. It will help the uterus work more efficiently and effectively during this special time.
To use: Wild yam can be consumed as an infusion or used as a cream. A combination of the two is perfect. To make an infusion, use 3-4 tbsp in a quart mason jar, cover with hot water and a lid, then let steep for 4-8 hours. Take as needed to boost progesterone levels.
Maca is a beneficial adaptogenic herb for both men and women, especially for those who have recently been diagnosed with PCOS, low sperm count, or irregular periods.
To use: Take daily in powder or capsule form. Maca has a pleasant malt-like flavor and can be incorporated into smoothies, lattes, or elixirs.
Try this special herbal remedy from acclaimed herbalist Susun Weed, which combines many of the beneficial herbs listed above:
Susun Weed’s Threatened Miscarriage Brew
1 tbsp dried black haw or cramp bark
3 tbsps dried raspberry leaf
10 drops wild yam root tincture
10 drops false unicorn root tincture
60 drops lobelia herb tincture
Instructions: Put the dried herbs in a quart jar and fill to the top with boiling water. Steep until cool enough to drink. Add the wild yam and false unicorn to one cupful of the tea and drink. If contractions continue for more than 30 minutes, add the lobelia tincture to a second cup of tea. Drink a cup every three hours, adding tinctures as needed, until miscarriage no longer threatens.
A prenatal multivitamin/mineral with active B vitamins should be taken daily. Make sure it contains vitamins B6, B12, D3, CoQ10, zinc, and folic acid (in the form of active folate).
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) can be consumed via whole foods or taken as a supplement (cod liver oil is best!). EFAs are essential for miscarriage prevention. EFAs and specifically omega-3s are responsible for regulating the body’s inflammation response, improving cellular integrity, and maintaining hormonal balance, all of which are key factors in preventing miscarriage. DHA is a type of omega-3 EFA that is explicitly responsible for preventing the vast majority of premature deliveries and maximizing intelligence in infants. Omega-3 fatty acids support healthy egg and sperm as well as proper formation of the baby’s nervous system, brain, eyes, and heart.
Excellent food sources of omega-3s include: Cod liver oil, wild-caught fish, flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and pasture-raised organic eggs. DHA is found only in marine sources, such as certain types of algae and fatty fish including salmon, anchovies, herring, and mackerel. Larger fish such as tuna should be avoided due to their high mercury content.
If your miscarriage is due to immunological concerns, low progesterone, or chromosomal issues, taking a vitamin E supplement separately will help. 600 IU per day is recommended (or only 50 IU if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes).
Suffering from a miscarriage can be incredibly challenging on so many levels - mentally, psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Understand that for whatever the reason, your baby was not ready, and it was not your time to be a mother; and that is completely okay. Give yourself time to grieve, find community, and surround yourself with people who can support you through this difficult time.To take full advantage of this time, optimizing your actions and your health is essential to promote fertility and your ability to conceive. Follow these steps and keep hope alive in your heart. Getting pregnant even after significant setbacks is possible. Have faith, trust that it will happen for you, and integrate self-love & self-care into your daily routine to support this possibility.