Sadly, one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. It happens mostly before 14 weeks, although it seems that Zara Tindall, the Queen’s 35-year-old granddaughter, was about four months pregnant when she suffered one late last year. It is now recognised that women who lose babies to miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy (which affects one in 90) may be at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD ) and need more emotional support than currently given.
In the first study on the issue, nearly four in 10 (38%) of 113 women who had suffered a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy met the criteria for PTSD three months after the loss of their baby. They reported regularly re-experiencing feelings associated with the loss. Some had nightmares and flashbacks, while others avoided anything that might remind them, such as pregnant family or friends.
Dr. Jessica Farren of Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research at Imperial College London, who led the study, said: ‘At present, there is no routine follow-up for women who have suffered a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. We have checks for postnatal depression, but nothing for the trauma and depression following pregnancy loss.’ Tommy’s CEO Jane Brewin is calling for ‘added impetus to change miscarriage treatment and care. Many women need more support,’ she says. ‘The NHS needs to rethink how women are treated throughout the experience, so they do not suffer from PTSD and other psychological impacts.’
The Miscarriage Association (miscarriageassociation.org.uk) is a valuable source of information and support for both partners, including suggestions on how to talk about it with family, friends and children. The helpline (01924 200799) is open from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
REST v ACTIVITY : UP TO DATE ADVICE ON BACK PAIN
One reader with a sore, strained back and another with a painful hip – both due to lifting heavy weights – ask if the advice to rest completely, which they were each given by their individual GP s, is appropriate. Neither’s symptoms had improved and they were fed up with doing nothing. In both cases, they consulted other healthcare professionals who suggested ‘active rest’. The result was confusion about what to do.
Chiropractor Dominic Cheetham says, ‘Keeping as gently active as possible is always the best advice.’ According to NHS Choices, ‘It’s now recognised that people who remain active are likely to recover more quickly. This may be difficult at first if the pain is severe, but try to move around as soon as you can and aim to do a little more each day.’
A bath or a hot water bottle placed on the painful site may help. If the area already feels hot, swollen and inflamed, an ice pack or bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel can help. Topical magnesium can also soothe – try Better You Magnesium Oil Sensitive Spray/£12.20 at victoriahealth.com). However, if the pain continues, it is vital to seek an expert opinion.
Q. Our four-year-old daughter has spent four nights in hospital with pneumonia. She is taking a seven-day course of antibiotics with Calpol. What can we give her to build up her resistance?
A. When she finishes the antibiotics, pharmacist Shabir Daya recommends taking the herb astragalus to strengthen her immune system and fight infections. Try Eclectic Kids Astragalus Alcohol Free Tincture for Kids (£12). She should take a weight-related dose as directed three times daily for one month. Do not use astragalus if she has a temperature.
Shabir says that a good probiotic will restore the balance of bacteria in the gut, which is important following antibiotics. These beneficial bacteria are responsible for the manufacture of immune-enhancing compounds. Try Viridian Nutrition Children’s Synbiotic Powder (£13.80) for one month.
Finally, the Chief Medical Officer recommends that everyone take a vitamin D3 supplement throughout the winter. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased susceptibility to infection. Better You DLux Infant Vitamin D Oral Spray is suitable for children from six months to five years (£5.95). The rest of the family should also take vitamin D3. (All supplements are available from victoriahealth.com.)