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Miscarriage: Symptoms, Causes, and Precautionary Measures

From the point of conception up to the 20 weeks' gestation period, if a woman undergoes a loss of pregnancy, this is called miscarriage. While we usually refer to abortion as the intentional ending of a pregnancy, a miscarriage is spontaneous and unintentional. Miscarriages have been found to occur mainly in the first trimester of pregnancy, seven to twelve weeks post conception.

Sadly, miscarriage is a common phenomenon. Many miscarriages occur in the early stages of pregnancy, when often a woman is not even aware that she is pregnant. Experts believe out of the known pregnancies, where a woman is tested positive for pregnancy, approx. 15% to 20% cases end in miscarriage.

9 What are the symptoms of miscarriage?

Vaginal bleeding, that varies from a brownish discharge to intensely heavy bleeding, is one of the major signs of miscarriage. Fluid or tissue discharge from the vagina, fainting spells or dizziness, painful cramps in the abdominal area are some of the other symptoms experienced during miscarriage. While you're pregnant, if you experience any of these symptoms, it is crucial to contact your doctor immediately.

The joy of motherhood is like no other feeling in the world. For your own safety, and to protect your little one, keep away from harmful ointments and any medical treatments that make you vulnerable to the risk of a miscarriage. 

While some cramping during pregnancy is ok, you’ll know if it’s just your body stretching if you lay down and the cramps go away, but if they don’t call your doctor immediately. Although these symptoms don’t always end in miscarriage, these signs are worth monitoring during your first trimester since they could be signs of a miscarriage coming.

Loss of pregnancy symptoms

Pregnancy tests that fluctuate between positive and negative

Bleeding

Cramping

8 Avoid exotic bathing lotions

If you're pregnant, your safest bet is to use a simple, low-end bathing soap, or even better, a baby soap. Baby products are examined more thoroughly and manufacturers put in the extra effort to avoid using harmful chemicals as ingredients in them. The exotic high-end bathing lotions and creams are frequently found containing chemicals that could cause allergies, but might also go to the extent of causing greater harm.

Look for products that are petrochemical free, paraben free, Phthalate free, DEA free, sulfate free, free of triclosan and dyes. High-end soaps and lotions tend to be more expensive because they have more ingredients, probably most of which you can’t pronounce. Look for simple ingredients and remember that just because it says it’s “natural” doesn’t mean it’s baby safe.

Your doctor may give you a list of things to avoid during your pregnancy, this will include foods, medications and drugs and alcohol. If the list stops there, allow us to add a few items that you will find in your cosmetics. These ingredients should also be avoided when you're breastfeeding as well:

Aluminum chloride hexahydrate - Found in antiperspirant

Beta hydroxy acids - Otherwise known as Salicylic acid, can be found in facial cleansers and wart removers

Chemical sunscreens - Can be one of these active ingredients (avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone, oxtinoxate, menthyl anthranilate, and oxtocrylene)

Diethanolamine (DEA) - Commonly found in hair and body products (oleamide DEA, lauramiude DEA, diethanolamine, and cocamide DEA)

Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) - A common agent in self tanners that can be harmful when inhaled

Formaldehyde - A teratogen found in many different cosmetic products, from nail polish to eyelash glue

Hydroquinone - This is used to lighten, never use in the form of hydroquinone, idrochinone and quinol, 1-4 dihydroxy benzene, 1-4 hydroxy benzene

Parabens - A chemical that uses gasoline particles as a bonding agent in the form of propyl, butyl, isopropyl, isoutyl, and methyl parabens.

Phthalates - Commonly found in synthetic fragrances and nail polishes, can also be named diethyl and dibutyl

Retinol - found in anti-aging products, common chemical forms named Vitamin A, retinoic acid, retinyl palmitate, retinaldehyde, adapalene, tretinoin, tazarotene, and isotretinoin

Thioglycolic acid - A chemicla commonly used in hair removal products, may also be labeled as acetyl mercaptan, mercaptoacetate, mercaptoacetic acid, and thiovanic acid

Toluene - Another bonding agent found in nail polishes. May also be named methylbenzene, toluol and atisal 1a

7 Keep your nails plain

This topic is much debated, while some studies say that the amount of chemicals in the nail products are so few that their effect on a pregnancy is pretty much negligible, other professionals say that the chemicals have no adverse effects because they would have to leach into your skin to cause harm, but sitting on the nail is pretty harmless.

Recently, studies have found that women working at nail salons are at a greater risk of miscarriage due to the use of toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate in nail products. Whether these studies prove conclusive or not, nail products are never adequately tested for concerns raised around the chemical doses in their formulation. 

The safer option is to have naked nails while you're pregnant, because even getting your nails done once in a few weeks might equate to exposing yourself to toxic chemicals. Wear your plain nails with pride, you're doing what is best for your child. Go for a chemical free manicure or pedicure in a well ventilated salon if you're in the mood to pamper yourself. 

6 Say no to hair removal products or treatments

There will come a time in your pregnancy when you can't see your feet, let alone have the ability to shave hair from your legs or nether regions. During this time, if you've been an avid shaver, then you might be tempted to use a hair removal product. For the reasons listed below, you should avoid any chemical treatments to remove unwanted hair.

Thioglycolic acid is found to be the main ingredient in most hair removal products. There are no clear outcomes from the studies carried out to test the harm this chemical may cause, but the Cosmetic Ingredient Review in the US recommends that more than 15.2% of this chemical should not be used as it reacts with the disulfide bonds in hair, and there could be potential toxic effects. 

All precaution should be taken during pregnancy, so it is best to stay away from these at least until your baby is born. It’s safe to go for waxing or shaving to get rid of the unwanted hair. 

5 Skincare ingredients can be serious offenders

Some of the most common skincare ingredients are known to induce miscarriage or have links to defects in birth. Many anti-aging creams contain retinoids in the form of retinol or tretinoin. Skin creams containing tretinoin are also prescribed by doctors to cure acne, wrinkles and age spots, even though the toxicity of this chemical has been known for a long time, and studies have shown them to cause miscarriage or birth defects. 

Retinoids are also detected in certain makeup products, so you must always look for makeup which is certified to be organic. Tretinoin creams are also known to cause headaches, eyesight defects and vomiting, apart from being toxic to the environment. They should be avoided altogether, even when you're not pregnant, but are a sure no-no when you are.

If you need to use a sunscreen during your pregnancy go for a natural, chemical free one that does not use oxybenzone. This chemical, along with octocrylene, avobenzone, benzophenone, dioxybenzone, para-aminobenzoic acid and methoxycinnamate, have been linked to causes of stillbirths.

Avoid all xenoestrogens. These act like estrogenic hormones, and can cause damage to your reproductive system. Be on the lookout for chemicals like butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben and ethylparaben; if you find any of these on the ingredients, don't use that skincare product. 

4 What you should know about salicylic acid

An organic acid that is colorless, and an active compound in aspirin, salicylic acid is used to reduce inflammation or redness of the skin and is particularly common as a treatment for acne-like skin conditions amongst teenagers or young adolescents. Pregnancy can also cause a similar skin condition among women due to the hormonal changes taking place, but it isn’t advisable to use salicylic acid in large doses to cure acne among pregnant women.

Salicylic acid is a form of beta hydroxy acid and has two variants - topical and oral. The topical variant is commonly found in ointments and lotions used for cosmetic or medicinal use due to its anti inflammatory properties. Certain derivatives of this acid are also used to gain relief from pain, fever, stiffness in joints and muscle ache. It is also used as a preservative in canned foods. 

However the cosmetic use of this acid is widely popular, making it an ingredient in most skin care products that are used to treat dandruff, acne, warts, corns, psoriasis or calluses. It de-clogs skin pores by removing dead skin and is hence used in the process of exfoliation.

The topical salicylic acid is absorbed by the skin, and there is a high probability of the acid entering the bloodstream. This is the main reason why doctors advise to avoid a prolonged use of products containing topical salicylic acid, or using large quantities of the same, even though so far there is no concrete evidence to prove that this acid is detrimental to the fetus. 

While on one hand, topical salicylic acid should be avoided, it is proven that the oral form of this acid causes serious side effects. If used during the later stages of pregnancy, oral salicylic acid can cause intracranial bleeding. Expectant mothers are also exposed to an increased risk of birth defects and miscarriage. Not only this, but using the acid in large doses can lead to heart problems and lung damage in newborns. 

Therefore, you must stay away from the oral form of this acid, and consult your physician before using the topical form. Also, the concentration of this acid should not exceed 2% in the product you're using as recommended by FDA. Look for BHA, Beta hydroxyl acid or Salicylic acid on the label.

In a nutshell, use topical salicylic acid if you really have to, but with care and only after discussing this with your doctor. Make sure to keep away from the oral form to avoid any complications in your health or that of your baby. It would be best to go for natural cures for acne during pregnancy. Products containing AHAs, or alpha hydroxy acids, lactic acid or glycolic acid are considered okay to use. 

3 Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) increase the risk of miscarriage

The use of NSAIDS is quite common for relief against headache, arthritic pain, injuries and any other form of chronic pain, however these drugs can be exceedingly harmful if used during pregnancy. Studies reveal that taking NSAIDs in early stages of pregnancy can double the risk of miscarriage in a pregnant woman. This includes prescription drugs as well as over-the-counter NSAIDs. 

Diclofenac, Ibuprofen, Celecoxib, Naproxen, Rofecoxib are some of the common NSAIDs, and must be avoided. If you're pregnant, and need relief from pain, you must consult your doctor who can help you find an alternative to these drugs. The use of these drugs is harmful during both early and late stages of pregnancy - apart from increasing the risk of miscarriage, they can also cause heart problems in the newborn, prolonged labor, or lower the level of amniotic fluid.

Prostaglandins are fatty acids which are required for implanting the embryo within the womb. NSAIDs suppress the production of these acids and often lead to abnormal implantation leading to miscarriage. 

3. What can you use for pain relief during pregnancy?

Painkillers can only provide temporary relief, and do not determine or treat the actual cause of pain. It is important, therefore, to visit a good physician if you're suffering from pain, and address your issues. You can figure out what is triggering the pain, and what can be done to treat the cause of it. 

In the meantime, if the pain gets too much to bear, there are excellent pain relief options which you can go for, that do not carry the health hazards that NSAIDs do. One of the effective antioxidants that is safe for use during pregnancy is astaxanthin. It is a supplement with effective anti-inflammatory properties and can practically cure you of pain better that most NSAIDs. You might need to take 8mg or more of astaxanthin per day to benefit.

Ginger is a fantastic anti-inflammatory herb and has numerous benefits. It can relieve you of pain, settle your stomach, and is easily available. You can use grated fresh ginger in your tea or add it to your vegetable juice. Apart from this, eating fresh pineapple can be quite helpful as it contains an enzyme called Bromelain, which is a natural anti-inflammatory. You can also take this enzyme in the form of a supplement. 

2 Alternative medicine can really help you

There are other forms of alternative medicine like acupressure and acupuncture, yoga, meditation, hot and cold packs, which can be very helpful during pregnancy. Yoga and meditation will not only keep you healthy physically speaking, but they will also help you remain calm, focused, content and happy, without the need for any external medication.

If someone has recommended you take a herbal supplement from a naturopath, first get your physicians ok before taking anything. There are certain herbs and natural  medicines that can also harm your baby, and you wouldn't want to accidentally take these, so never take something without running it by your OBG or gynecologist first.

The same goes for herbal teas. These haven't bee properly studied for their effect on pregnancy, so before you start taking any type of herbal tea or tisane, you should first make sure that they're not going to cause you any problems through your pregnancy. It's always best to ask your doctor when you get into a situation where you don't know the answer or can't find an easy answer readily available.

1 If you're being careful, you have no reason to worry!

Many years ago, when inventions and discoveries in medicine and chemistry were being churned out, it was widely believed that chemicals did not cross the placenta and hence could not affect the fetus. Today, we know better. The more the expectant mother is exposed to chemicals, higher is the risk of ill-health for both mother and baby. 

In the early stages of pregnancy when the growth of the fetus is sensitively regulated by natural chemicals within the womb, utmost care should be taken to ensure that the natural process is allowed to take its course without any harmful interference. This does not mean you should worry all the time! Giving birth is a beautiful experience, and even after the advent of industrialization, healthy babies are born every day. 

You must not let fears overshadow your joy of being an expectant mother. All you need to do is practice precaution where necessary, use common sense to make your decisions, and stay up to date with facts to protect the little one that is a part of your being. 

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