Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Immediate Tips for When There's No Heartbeat

If this is your first ultrasound, your dates may be off. Everything may be fine, but you need to do another one later to make sure. If you see a heartbeat then, rejoice! If the news is bad again:

If you have already seen a heartbeat and now there is not one, or if your second ultrasound confirmed an early loss, I am so sorry!!! I wish I could put my arms around you and pray for the Lord to comfort you. Thinking carefully about what to do next can really make a difference in how you recover.

Don't feel like you have to be in a rush to make a decision. Many women are rushed into D&C and have second thoughts afterward. There is no hurry at all unless you are hemorrhaging. Many women have waited weeks with no consequences.

If seeing the baby and burying it is important to you (and many, many women don't realize how important it is to them until it's too late because they were too numb to make decisions and were rushed), then you may want to opt for waiting for a natural miscarriage. At the very least, you should make it very clear to your doctor and the hospital that you want the remains if you have a D&C. Some are helpful with this, many are not. Contrary to what some hospitals say, you need no special permission to take the remains of a baby that died before 20 weeks (in most states, this may vary a week or two) or to bury it. Please don't miss this just because you think it will be gross - it really isn't and helps many women.

If you opt for a natural miscarriage at home, you may benefit from talking to and consulting a midwife. The midwife in my area was far, far more helpful, informative and resourceful than my very good OB. Also, if you've consulted a midwife you'll have someone to call if you have questions or difficulties whose automatic answer is not going to be "go to the hospital."

If you don't want to wait at home, or to have a D&C, there are meds the doctor can give you or herbs the midwife can, to induce your body to go ahead and labor, either at home or at the hospital.

If you are a friend or a relative of someone in this position, particularly if they are waiting for an ultrasound to confirm a loss, it is hard to support her, because I'm certain she doesn't want to talk about miscarriage right now. However, if she goes into the doctor without thinking over her options, she may get railroaded and have a harder time emotionally recovering. Pray you'll have the wisdom to know how to talk to her. Maybe even to just say, "I really recommend you don't make any decisions there at the doctor's office. Many women regret the decisions they make in a hurry like that."

I hope that helps some :-(


Anonymous said...

Hi Melanie,

Thank you for your site. It's been a comfort, bringing me hope and information I could not find anywhere else. A verse very dear to me at a time like this is: The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart... - Psalm 34:18.

My heart had been heavy for weeks after finding out I'd have another miscarriage, but was recently filled with God's hope even in such a time. I find comfort in knowing He's near and cares. Also the book "Heaven is for Real" by Todd Burpo gives a beautiful picture of heaven. It even speaks directly to miscarriage, God's love for children and our babies in heaven.

My husband and I have now just lost three babies to miscarriage. These past few days have been the culmination of weeks of waiting after hearing that our baby had no heartbeat.

I wanted to write in since I'm so practical and last time had wanted to know how to prepare/ endure a natural miscarriage at home, but had not found any advice online. Often information is comfort to me since I like to be prepared and know what to expect. With this loss, we found a system that could be helpful to others, particularly if miscarriage will happen past 10 weeks (producing more blood). Ours have only been between the 11th and 12th week, so I don't know what to expect for earlier MCs. The main benefit we have found in our system is more rest and time away from the toilet as well as a means to collect the baby for burial if desired.

1) continue taking your prenatal vitamin. The iron supply will bulk up your body's resources to prepare for blood loss and hopefully help with a quicker recovery.

2) purchase a package of Depends - adult diapers, and Nighttime sanitary napkins with wings. I had to swallow some pride with this one, but these allowed me to sleep several hours and often through the night. You can use the pads as liners for the diapers, exposing only the front, back and winged edges of the adhesive to secure. Prolonging the use of the Depends as long as they're clean is much easier than changing each time, especially in the middle of the night.

3) get a sitz bath (Walgreens and CVS have these for $10-15) and clear garbage bags to use as liners. They rest in the toilet (with seat up) and allow you to collect clots. Cutting the bags into large enough squares to cover and tuck under the sitz bath helps lessen mess and reduce need to clean the bath, keeping everything sanitary. Toilet hats may also work and are about $2, but could only find online.

4) place an old towel on the bed just in case. it's easier to wash a towel than change sheets.

5) stock up on dark chocolate and hot chocolate. my husband would bring home chocolates with each store run for necessities. Dark Chocolate has a notable amount of iron to help with blood supply, but is also just a nice treat in the midst of pain and grief.

Another important note. I'd been so confused about the signs of hemorrhaging. I heard from my midwives that if you fill a sanitary napkin within an hour to head to the ER, but a blood clot would fill it in a few seconds. The first miscarriage brought us to the hospital because of this misunderstanding. I recently came to understand that the blood clot (darker red, coagulated blood in varying sizes - they can get large like an orange) is not so much the concern since that had time to coagulate as it was exposed to oxygen, but bright red, flowing blood is what they mean. Confirm this with your doctor or midwife, but this has made sense and proved true for me. Sometimes they'll want you to come in if clots are larger than a particular size, so do heed those warnings.**

My heart goes out to all those going through this. I'm hoping someone will find this very long post comforting and helpful as I would have.

**Note: Each body is unique so situations vary. Contact your doctor/midwife if you are concerned and if something feels wrong head to the hospital.

Blessings and hugs

Melanie said...

Thank you so much, my friend for your encouraging and very helpful post! I have been hoping more women would share these practical things that no one tells you! I particularly like the diaper and sitz bath ideas.

I am so sorry to hear about the loss of yet another little for you! May the Lord wrap you tight in His arms as you heal and recover.

Much, much love,