The Bloody Truth: Why Miscarriage Is Sometimes a Choice  

“Miscarriage.” “Abortion.” Notice the difference in how you likely respond to each word. The first is laden with loss, while the second sounds out shame. But, really, it’s all semantics. A woman is free to end her pregnancy with or without medical intervention; she’s free to induce miscarriage if abortion is not an option.

In a world before institutionalized healthcare, women knew how to cause a miscarriage naturally. It was vital information passed from generation to generation, and there’s still a hunger for this knowledge now, evidenced by the surge of “how to cause a miscarriage” articles online. The rise in DIY abortions, it seems, is a response to the erosion of our reproductive rights, as women seek to do what is necessary to gain control of their bodies and lives.

Abortion vs. Induced Miscarriage

Outdated social paradigms tell us a woman should be overjoyed upon discovering she’s pregnant, yet this simply isn’t always the case. Aside from the potential physical complications that pregnancy may bring, motherhood comes with a mother load of financial and emotional responsibilities some women may not feel ready for.

A woman’s decision not to have children still challenges our social and cultural paradigms. As pro-choice and women’s rights movements rally for change, the truth is that changing something so deeply embedded in the collective psyche takes time. And right now we seem to be moving backwards to an age when women were at the mercy of back-alley quacks.  

Before abortion was legalized in the U.S. in 1973, and long before the OB-GYN, women managed their pregnancies with plants and herbs. But now a question mark hangs over our reproductive rights—and women across the world are imprisoned for terminating their pregnancies—it’s no wonder we’re taking matters into our own hands. But are we in safe hands?

Why Would You Choose to Miscarry?

The growing interest in herbal miscarriages isn’t just a reflection of the challenges outlined above. It’s also a choice. When it comes to abortion, no matter the level of care you receive, it’s invasive and painful. Inducing a miscarriage is no less painful, yet it removes the sense of intrusion, and stigma, that comes with medical intervention.

Self-induced miscarriage allows a woman to be fully present with her body, her choice, and yet it’s still a risky business. If you’re taking the herbal route, know that six weeks of pregnancy is your outer limit. Plus you won’t want to go it alone. Find yourself an experienced herbalist or doula—or both.  

How might a woman induce miscarriage?

Herbs are not 100 percent effective, and any information you get online isn’t foolproof. The best advice will come straight from the herbalist’s mouth. An herbalist might suggest vitamin C, parsley, black cohosh, dong quai, or cinnamon in varying doses, depending on what’s right for your body and where you are in your pregnancy. 

Other actions women might take to induce miscarriage include caffeine (note that caffeine is a stress stimulant and is therefore not ideal when managing an unwanted pregnancy) or certain acupuncture pressure points.

Again, specific how-tos including quantities and which substance or action might be best for you will depend on factors related to your personal health and should always be discussed with a doctor or medical specialist.

How Do I know If My Miscarriage Is Successful?

You’ll have cramps in your lower abdomen and back, and you’ll begin to bleed. Any pregnancy symptoms, such as sickness or sore breasts will cease, and your menstrual cycle will resume once the uterus is empty. If it isn’t empty, you run the risk of infection. If you experience prolonged bleeding, sickness, fever, or severe pain, you need professional assistance.

It seems, on some level, there’s no escaping medical intervention. So whatever you do, and whatever risks you take, let it be a choice and not a necessity. We could quibble about the dangers of misleading information available online, but nothing is as dangerous as taking away a woman’s reproductive rights.

Please note that the author is not a doctor and you should consult your physician or a medical professional if you have questions related to pregnancy.

Featured image by Alexa Miller Gallo

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