Archive | April, 2011

Grieving Pregnancy Loss

18 Apr

Choosing to walk the path toward single motherhood can be a liberating experience. It is not a decision taken lightly by most women. A lot of thought and angst goes into taking this step. And it is a very courageous step to take by yourself.

Sadly though, one’s aloneness is bitterly highlighted when you face the kind of loss that a miscarriage brings. Suffering (and that is a perfect word to describe it) from a miscarriage can be very traumatic and sad for anyone, irrespective of their circumstances.

While a woman’s body can heal and recover relatively quickly from a miscarriage, the emotional injury can take much longer to heal. I believe that it is important to grieve after a pregnancy loss, regardless of whether it happened early in pregnancy or later on. Facing the loss and grief can help pull you through it all and even see you emerge a stronger person.

When doing some research around this sad topic I was surprised to find that it is a common problem that women do not want to talk about their feelings surrounding pregnancy loss. I started think about why this may be the case. I am fortunate that life has taught me to face emotional issues head on so this is difficult for me to understand. Why are some women not comfortable to talk about their miscarriage? I’m sure there are many reasons including the notion that there is something wrong with them as creating life is meant to be easy (a hideous misconception).

Well, another possible reason occurred to me one day when a well meaning friend kindly reminded me that miscarriage is common, particularly as you get older. Oh really? Like this was news to me! I was told by this friend in fact, that miscarriage was even par of the course. Okay, this may be the case and although this didn’t really upset me, it got me thinking. This wasn’t the first time I had heard that. The lovely lady at the ultrasound clinic told me this, the doctors of course told me this and the various leaflets were sure to get this message across. I even noticed myself reciting this mantra too. Yes, yes, miscarriage is common – but it doesn’t make the actual loss any easier.

Could being told how common miscarriage is at every corner induce some kind of guilt about feeling sad and spending time to grieve? Maybe, maybe not but regardless I really don’t think this friendly reminder, although well intentioned, is very helpful.

Bonding with a pregnancy can begin very early, especially for women going through fertility treatment. It may be the day you jump the hurdle of actually having an embryo to transfer or even the day you do your IUI or when the sperm is put into the Petri dish. It is different for everyone but the bond does start very early. And then once a pregnancy is confirmed, you begin to identify with your potential baby. When a woman goes through fertility treatment there is so much anticipation and when success is achieved the elation is high. When faced with the loss it is a very sharp corner to turn.

In my case, being 39 years old I am well aware of the facts surrounding miscarriage possibility. I don’t need to be reminded of this. Possibly, all this reminder really does is threaten to disqualify natural emotions of grief because I should have expected and been prepared for it. Hmmmm? Maybe I’m being too harsh? Comment and tell me what you think people. Isn’t this what blogs are for – to express thoughts and create conversation. Talk to me – I know you are there.

Anyhow I think you get my message here. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how high the risks are or how common miscarriages are, it is still painful. Loss of pregnancy is worthy of taking time out to grieve.

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The Loss

8 Apr

I had my +35 day scan today and my baby had no heart beat. It looks like the baby stopped developing less than a week ago. I am booked in for a D&C Monday morning.

Obviously, I am devastated. I’ve gone from the extreme high of feeling so happy in the knowledge I was pregnant to turning such a sharp and harsh corner. Now the grieving. I know this pain will pass though and I will be able to start IVF again after two menstrual cycles.

Diet and Pregnancy

7 Apr

I have been pouring over various pregnancy books with the immediate aim of learning how my diet should change and most importantly – what I must not consume. I have found so much conflicting information though so I decided to make an appointment with a naturopath and dietician who I trust.

Here’s is what we discussed.

Firstly, the basics:

Eating Safely During Pregnancy

J Midwifery Womens Health 49(4):373-374, 2004. © 2004 Elsevier Science, Inc.

During pregnancy, you can eat the same things that you normally eat when you were not pregnant. But especially in the first few months of your pregnancy, your baby can be hurt by poisons (toxins) or germs (bacteria). For this reason, you need to be aware of these food dangers and learn how to choose and prepare your food safely.

What Foods Might Be Harmful to My Baby During Pregnancy?

The foods of most concern are fish, meat, milk, and cheese. Because these are important parts of most diets, you will want to learn to choose the right fish, meat, milk, or cheese.

What’s the Problem With Fish?

Many fish – especially fish that are large, eat other fish, and live a long time – have mercury in them. Mercury can cause problems with the development of your baby’s brain and nerves. Fish may also have dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). These toxins may cause problems with the development of your baby’s brain and may cause cancer.

So Should I Just Stop Eating Fish?

No. Fish is a wonderful food. It has lots of good protein and other nutrients. You can continue to eat fish, but you may wish to cut down on the amount of fish you eat and change the kind of fish you eat. Information about which fish are good to eat during pregnancy is listed on the back of this page.

What Meat is Dangerous?

Most of our meat is safe to eat. However, meat that has not been kept cold or that has not been prepared properly may have germs or parasites that could harm you or your baby. Raw meat may contain toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is a germ that can damage your growing baby’s eyes, brain, and hearing. More information over the page.

What Do I Need to Know About Milk And Cheese?

Some cheese may contain germs (bacteria) called listeria. These germs can cause a disease called listeriosis, which may cause miscarriage, stillbirth, or serious health problems for your baby. To avoid listeriosis, you may want to avoid soft cheeses like Mexican-style queso blanco fresco, camembert and brie. Also avoid unpasteurised fetta cheese. Over the page will tell you which cheeses you can continue to enjoy and which types to avoid.

How Do I Prepare Food Safely?

Wash your hands and cooking surfaces often.

Keep raw meat away from raw fruit and vegetables and cooked meat.

Cook your food until it is steaming hot. Keep uneaten food cold or frozen.

Eating Safely During Pregnancy

Fresh fish

Shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish Do not eat
Farmed salmon Eat no more than 1 meal a month
Albacore tuna (“white” tuna) Eat no more than 1 meal a week
Shrimp, canned light tuna, canned or wild salmon, pollock, and catfish Eat no more than 2 meals a week

Deli Meats and Smoked Fish

Deli meat spread Do not eat
Hot dogs, lunch meat, deli meat, deli smoked fish Do not eat unless you reheat to steaming hot
Canned smoked fish or meat spread Eat no more than 2 meals a week

Meat – Beef, Chicken, Pork

Any meat that is rotten or raw Do not eat

Milk and Cheese

Unpasteurized milk and products made from it such as some feta cheese, also, brie, camembert, blue-veined cheeses, Mexican-style queso blanco fresco Do not eat or drink
Pasteurized milk and products made from it such as hard cheeses, semi-soft cheeses like mozzarella, processed cheese slices, cream cheese, cottage cheese, some feta cheeses, yogurt Eat all you want

Note: Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local waters. If you can’t get advice on this, eat no more than 1 meal a week from fish caught in local waters and don’t eat any other fish that week.

Cook fish by broiling, baking, steaming, or grilling. Remove skin and fat before cooking. Do not eat the fat that drains from the fish while cooking.

Cook all meats all the way through. When you eat meat, you should not see any pink inside the flesh. After cutting up raw meat, clean the cutting surface with bleach, soap, and hot water before cutting any raw fruit or vegetables.

Supplements:

I was already taking Blackmores Pregnancy & Breast Feeding Gold (2 capsules per day).

I was further advised to take Nordic Naturals ProOmega fish oil (2000 mg) and Nutrition Care Vitamin B12 (1mg).

Herbal Teas:

I found reading about which teas were safe to consume during pregnancy really confusing.  The use of herbal teas during pregnancy requires careful consideration as many herbal teas have a drug like effect. The following list indicates “safe teas” from my research and advice from my naturopath and dietician. I am told though that no trials have yet proven their safety for pregnant or lactating women (not so comforting). These “safe teas” have little or no effect on the body when used in moderation (2 cups/day)

Alfalfa; Catnip; Chamomile; Chicory Root; Elder Flowers; Fennel; Fenugreek; Ginger; Goldenrod; Hibiscus; Lemon Grass; Linden Flowers; Nettle; Peppermint; Rosehip; Red & Black Raspberry; Red Clover; Spearmint; Slippery Elm Bark; Yarrow.

Not all of them a really delicious but there you go. May your pinky finger stand erect 🙂

For More Information:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

http://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety or http://www.cdd.gov/travel/pregnancy

Excellent up-to-date information on food safety issues in the United States and abroad.

Partnership for Food Safety Education

http://www.fightbac.org

Lots of good information on prevention of illness from the food supply.

Food and Drug Administration

http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/news/2004/NEW01038

Published advisories regarding the consumption of fish in March 2004.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, dietician, naturopath or a general know it all. Please conduct your own research – I simply hope that my research may assist you in some way. Even though all that I have posted is from a professional I trust and respect – she is just anther opinion.