A miscarriage is the natural early loss of a pregnancy. Sadly, according to Harvard Medical School, approximately 15% to 20% of known pregnancies end in a miscarriage, with about 80% of those occurring during the first trimester. While many factors that result in miscarriage are beyond the mother’s control, you can take steps to reduce your overall risk.
Unavoidable Causes of Miscarriage
Most miscarriages result from genetic abnormalities, instances when the egg and sperm come together, but the chromosomes don’t pair correctly. Recognizing the pregnancy is not viable, the body terminates it. The placenta failing to successfully connect the mother to the embryo can also result in miscarriage. These issues are natural by and large and cannot be avoided.
Steps You Can Take to Limit Other Risk Factors
While the issues outlined above may be beyond your control, making a handful of wise decisions immediately and continually after becoming pregnant can limit your risks for other causes of miscarriage.
1. Practice Good Hygiene
Many bacterial and viral infections can lead to miscarriage. The keys to protecting yourself and your baby from these infections are by keeping your distance from people who are ill and through repeated, consistent and thorough hand washing.
2. Quit Smoking
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have a miscarriage. Adding this to the long list of other health problems related to smoking should provide strong motivation to quit. Sometimes, however, that’s not enough, so it’s important to get the proper support.
3. Eat and Cook Smart
A healthy, balanced diet, including fresh fruits and vegetables, can lower your odds of having a miscarriage. It can also help you reach or maintain a healthy weight leading up to pregnancy, which is critical, as obesity increases miscarriage risk by 25%. Another food-related concern is food-borne illnesses caused by bacteria. These can generally be avoided through safe food handling and avoiding foods that are high-risk sources, including undercooked meats and unpasteurized cheeses.
4. Quit Drinking Alcohol and/or Taking Illegal Drugs
Contrary to what some people believe, any alcohol consumption during early pregnancy can be very dangerous for your baby. Analyzing studies of 231,000 women, researchers found that ingesting even small amounts of alcohol increased the odds of miscarriage by 19%. The National Institute on Drug Abuse further identifies cocaine, heroin, inhalants, marijuana, MDMA and methamphetamine among the illegal drugs that can result in miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight.
5. Take Necessary Medications and Prenatal Vitamins
Lupus, diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic health conditions can increase your chances of having a miscarriage. Taking prescribed and monitored medications for those conditions will limit the risk. Be sure to talk with your doctor about the medications you take and their potential impacts on your pregnancy. Your doctor will also likely recommend you take prenatal vitamins to reduce your risk of miscarriage and other pregnancy complications.
Some of the steps above are very hard to take successfully on your own. Often, you may need access to community resources or healthcare professionals to take the right steps and make them stick. The benefits of a healthy pregnancy are certainly worth it, but not all women have access to the assistance they require.
In Gainesville, Sira connects pregnant women with community organizations and services to provide you the support you need for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, and our services are completely free. To talk with one of our client advocates, contact Sira today at 352-377-4947.