This article will focus on how to reduce the risk of miscarriage. It will explain some things you can do to avoid the heartbreak of a lost unborn child.
About half of all lost pregnancies occur because of genetic problems. These can happen in even very young women, but the chances of this type of loss increase with maternal age. Miscarriages due to genetic reasons cannot be prevented. Sometimes, they just happen. It’s not anyone’s fault.
Causes and Signs of a Miscarriage
The chance of a miscarriage, or pregnancy loss, is always present in every pregnancy, whether known or not. As a general rule, the risk decreases as the fetus gets older. Losses occurring before the 20th week are called miscarriages; after that, it’s referred to as a stillbirth. In women under 37, the overall risk of miscarriage per pregnancy is roughly 10% to 15%. This risk rises dramatically in women over the age of 45. By then, less than 50% of pregnancies will be viable and make it to full term. The male’s age is also a factor. If he is over 40, there is an additional risk as well
Chances of a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy, or one that occurs within the fallopian tubes, also rise with age, again, especially after the maternal age of 40. Even among older women, however, the risk of fetal loss drops significantly after the confirmation of the baby’s heartbeat somewhere between seven and 10 weeks of fetal age.
Reduce the Risk of Miscarriage
Here are some simple things you can do:
- Regular gentle exercise suitable for pregnancy
- Do not smoke and avoid secondhand smoke
- Eat a healthy diet
- Avoid ALL medications and supplements not approved by your doctor
- Keep a healthy weight
- Avoid toxins
- Don’t drink alcohol
- Avoid caffeine intake higher than that in two cups of coffee at most
- No x-rays
- Avoid infections and people who are sick, and make sure your immunizations are up to date
In addition, be sure to take a folic acid supplement of 400 micrograms daily. This may also help prevent certain birth defects like spina bifida. Enough sleep is very important. Protect your abdomen. Although the baby is well-protected within the uterus, avoid contact sports and other risky sports such as skiing. Always wear your seat belt in the car. If you can do all of the above in the two to three months before you conceive again, your chances of a healthy full-term pregnancy will be even higher. Folic acid, in particular, is most effective when started two to three months before pregnancy begins. Stress management is also important.
Some medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and certain thyroid conditions may also contribute to the risk of pregnancy loss. These conditions must be adequately controlled both before and during pregnancy. Wash your hands with soap and warm water throughout the day. Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Infections are a risk factor for miscarriage.
A Second Miscarriage?
If you have had a miscarriage in the past, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have another one in a subsequent pregnancy. However, statistically, the odds of a second loss are higher, so you must be even more vigilant to reduce the risk of miscarriage in a later pregnancy. You may be able to avoid a second pregnancy loss if the cause of the first one is known. For example, if a previous miscarriage was discovered to be due to an imbalance of hormones, that condition needs to be addressed before a second conception occurs.
Some Final Words
Be mindful of food preparation and safety. Bacteria from improperly cooked or stored foods can be a miscarriage risk. Avoid raw eggs. They may carry salmonella. Certain exotic cheeses may be contaminated with listeria bacteria. Wash your hands after touching raw foods and wash all produce thoroughly. Get a flu shot, too. It is safe and recommended for pregnant women. Influenza can put your unborn child at risk of miscarriage. High fever, such as one that can occur with the flu, is a risk factor for certain neural tube birth defects, too.
These are all simple lifestyle changes that any woman can do to reduce the risk of miscarriage and help ensure the birth of a healthy, full-term infant.