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A natural miscarriage, or unassisted miscarriage, is a sacred way of honoring the lives of our little ones, the intentions of our natural birth and a way to experience trust in our bodies at a time when we need it most. This article is to help those of you who might be going through this and want to know what to expect during the process of a natural miscarriage and when we might want to get further help.
But lets back up. To be in a place where you even have to consider what to do in a miscarriage, I feel for you and send love to you. I am sorry for your pregnancy loss. I know the confusion that can come to even know if we’re miscarrying, and the grief that can come in processing and letting go.
But as I said, the body is miraculous. So, even in the depths of our grief it can help us through. The reason natural miscarriage came naturally to me is because it felt traumatic enough to lose my baby, I didn’t feel the need to go sit in a doctors office, or endure traumatic surgery (D&C) to let go of the baby. Some will find a D&C a relief, and it’s always there in case of emergency, but for me, I didn't have an emergency and it wasn’t the best option.
For those of us who want to honor and benefit from the natural, here is what we are looking at for a natural miscarriage. A miscarriage in medical terms is an ended pregnancy before 20 weeks, after that it is called a stillbirth. I have experienced two natural miscarriages, one at 5/6-weeks pregnant, one at 12-weeks. Depending on where you are in your pregnancy, the experiences can differ in intensity. Though they have many similarities.
The Process of A Natural Miscarriage
In both natural miscarriages I first started spotting for several days, a dark brown blood that was only there when I wiped. No need for a pad or a pantyliner. I initially thought this might just be spotting (and apologized to baby if I was worrying too much when everything was okay) but now know it wasn’t. It was agonizing to not know. And I send you love if you are here.
During the miscarriage at 5-weeks, this spotting turned into bleeding with wave-like cramping. Normally when I have my period I may have cramps the first day, but not after. With this, there was cramping on and off for three days. I had not worn a pad in a very long time (which for this reason I do not recommend and I changed my ways since the first miscarriage), so it was hard for me to know if I was bleeding a lot, or not. Though nothing else seemed too out of the ordinary (meaning not much tissue/clots), it wasn’t until a few days later my boobs and my body no longer felt pregnant, and about a week later when I took a blood test to confirm what my heart was sad to know.
During the natural miscarriage at 12-weeks, there was still the spotting of dark brown blood, though it started with a one-time soft pink spotting about 3 days prior to the dark brown. I had several days of dark brown spotting; then on the third day, I awoke in the middle of the night very uncomfortable in bed and wanted a shower.
I had started to bleed very heavily, period-like. Then I went to sit on the balcony and absorb that we were losing the baby. My husband came out an hour or so later, and so I went back to bed. That lasted only a few moments; then I was up and in the shower once more (thank you Mother Earth for all your water). This time, I felt like I was in labor. The contractions would come, and in the shower I could stay very relaxed. They would start, peak, drift off then cycle though again.
Each time I tried to get back in bed, I was too uncomfortable to lie down. And finally I started to cry as I realized the pain was because I was resisting and not wanting to birth the baby right now, so I asked my husband to go and get my meditation cd, then I went and camped out on the toilet as my husband laid on the ground beside me. (The toilet or the shower felt best, I definitely didn’t want a pad or even clothes on.) I threw up a little bit and each time I did I felt my cervix open a little bit more. I listened to my CD for a time which transformed my space into chanting and talking to my body and telling it it could open up. I did and a big piece of baby/tissue passed. The water in the toilet was too bloody to see anything, I thought about going after it, and talked to my husband about it, but we decided not too. Some of you may want to bury the baby or test the tissue, for me I decided the baby had already left, and what I was passing was tissue, it is up to you in the moment what you most feel, I feel comfortable with my decision.
After that, I felt like the natural miscarriage suddenly subsided and I wanted to lie down. I rested for a few hours (okay, maybe one), then my body once again wanted to expel more. I went to get into the shower to relax; then I went back on the toilet with the meditation cd. Once again, I passed some large pieces and went back to bed. (I can't really say how large, as each time they would sink so fast into water that was really red with blood.) After this, I was feeling like everything major had passed, but hours later, around 1 in the afternoon, sharp pains came again as I passed another large piece.
Have someone with you!
I lost a lot of blood during that birthing process, but only once did I feel unstable, and that was because I had the shower water hot, plus the door closed and needed drinking water. As soon as I called my husband he became my “fetcher”. “Honey can you get the water? Honey can you get a cold wash cloth for my neck? Honey can you get my meditation cd..."
He provided so much emotional and physical support when I needed to focus on what my body needed during the natural miscarriage. I was able to listen to my body, request he get whatever I needed, or just be with me, and go within. And it made the process more doable and made me feel a lot more stable than when I was alone (the time I overheated in the shower). He wasn’t with me the whole time, there were times when I woke up and went back to the shower and didn’t wake him up, but it was great to have someone there that I could call on if I felt the need.
Embrace the sacred privacy!
As I was looking back on the loss of our baby, it was apparent that one of the things I was most grateful for was the privacy I had to experience this birth just as I felt I needed. There was nobody around telling me what to do, there was only my husband supporting me with what I needed.
I can’t tell you how invaluable that was to me, as I was camped on the toilet, pooping, bleeding and chanting all at the same time. It was just as important in walking away from the experience empowered in trusting the natural divine as anything else I’ve experienced. We can find our honor and the sacred even in events that we’d rather not be participating in (like the loss of our babies).
Signals to Seek Assistance
The body knows how to cleanse itself. I was surprised by how much pressure I got to go to the doctor to get "cleaned out". But the body knows what to do in this situation, and the body tells us if something’s wrong and if we need to seek outside help. (In fact, I later learned that it could have done more harm than good for me since I am O- and my husband is O+ and we have the Rh Factor to consider. In the end, I am grateful I didn't have the D&C which would have mixed baby's and my blood.)
Certain things to look out for are: a temperature! If you start to get above 100 (F) temperature, the body is signaling infection. Call your health care professional and work with your body on letting it know it's okay to release, there may be pieces of tissue that your body is holding and this can be caused because we are not yet emotionally ready to release.
A sudden increase in bleeding can also signal a problem. During my 12-week natural miscarriage, after that first morning of birth every day thereafter the bleeding got less and less. Though I ended up bleeding for a good 7 days, then spotting for several days. All in all it was at least two weeks. You may be bleeding more or less, but after you have passed the larger tissue, bleeding should not take a dramatic increase. Listen to your body, you’ll know if you have a problem.
Pain is another indicator that all the tissue may not have left the body. And a strong odor coming from your birth canal also can indicate infection. So, stay in tune with the body. Yes, it can cleanse all unhealthy tissue by itself, but we need to support it by taking care of ourselves. And we always have support if we feel our body needs support. Don’t hesitate to call your midwife/doctor or trusted advisor, whether it’s for emotional or physical support.
The process of every natural miscarriage, just like every natural birth, will be different. But our bodies are always communicating to us, and letting us know what it needs most. Miscarriage is an important time, often a difficult time, but an important time where we can increase our respect and understanding of our bodies. Give yourself all the support you need… Love and blessings to you on this journey.