Sadly 1 in 4 women will miscarry in their childbearing years. Early pregnancy loss is often unexpected and often can’t be prevented. Up to 80% of these losses will occur in the first trimester (up to 12 weeks). Yet there are ways you can reduce your risk of miscarriage by making some lifestyle changes.
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12 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Miscarriage
1. Stop Smoking
You are probably already aware that smoking is harmful to both you and baby. Smoking reduce the amount of oxygen to baby which puts you at higher risk of miscarriage. If someone else in your house smoke encourage them to give up too. Research has shown that passive smoke is just as bad for your baby. Second hand smoke can linger for up to 5 hours, even when windows and doors are open.
Ask your care giver if they provide a smoking cessation service to give you support. Giving up smoking will prevent future pregnancy complications. As a smoker your baby is at higher risk of premature birth, low birth weight, stillbirth, cot death and asthma.
2. Ditch the Drugs
Any drugs you take in pregnancy can affect your baby. That includes those on prescription, over the counter, herbal remedies or illegal substances. Recreational drugs such as cocaine, crack, heroin and amphetamines are known to increase the risk of miscarriage. These drugs affect baby’s blood supply and brain development. If you feel you are addicted to drugs discuss with your doctor to get help.
If you are taking prescription drugs discuss their use with your doctor. Do this as soon as you find out you are pregnant. Never stop taking your medication cold turkey as it may affect your condition. You doctor May advice you to stop taking the medication, change the type or alter the dosage for safe use in pregnancy.
3. Say No to Alcohol
It is unknown how much alcohol is safe to take in pregnancy. Excessive drinking is known to be linked to higher risk of miscarriage. Drinking alcohol in pregnancy is also linked with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum disorders (FASD). This is a range of physical, mental, behavioral and learning disabilities. Seek help if you feel like you cannot give up alcohol during your pregnancy.
Because there is no ‘safe’ limit the recommendation is to avoid alcohol completely. Try some great alcohol free wines or beers if you have a special occasion during your pregnancy. If you choose to continue drinking it is believe that you should drink no more than 1-2 units per week.
4. Reduce Caffeine Intake
Studies have shown that consuming over 200mg of caffeine per day doubles your risk of miscarriage. Caffeine is found in a lot more than your coffee so it can quickly add up. Here are some figures to give you an idea of what you’re consuming:
- Instant Coffee (per cup) 75mg
- Brewed Coffee (per cup) 100mg
- Regular tea (per cup) 50mg
- Regular Cola (per can) 40mg
- Energy Drinks (per can) 80mg
- Chocolate (per bar) 50mg
We recommend cutting back you intake of these drinks. If you feel you can’t go without then opt for a de-caff or caffeine free versions.
5. Watch Your Weight
Having a BMI over 30 or under 18 in pregnancy puts you at greater risk of miscarriage. The aim is to maintain a healthy weight with a balanced diet and exercise. Your doctor may wish to refer you to a dietician to create a diet plan for you to follow.
Weight loss in pregnancy is not recommended as it can harm your baby. However women with a raised BMI are expected to gain less weight. The aim is no more than 11-20lbs. This accounts for growth such as baby, placenta, fluid and blood.
6. Get a Work Assessment
If you work in a high risk area you may want to inform you employer of your pregnancy as soon as possible. Your employer should do a risk assessment of your workplace and alter any duties deemed as putting your baby at risk. Jobs that increase your risk of miscarriage involve:
Hazardous substances – This include infection risk and chemical use.
Excessive standing – Longer than 2-3 hours at a time without a break.
Night shift – Long hours and unsocial shifts as well as early starts, last finishes and overtime.
Work related violence – Threatened abuse work such as security, police or mental health care.
Radiation exposure – Work which includes x-rays or scanning.
7. Be Aware Of Infection
Undiagnosed infections are thought to be a main cause of many miscarriages. These can include urine infection, sexually transmitted disease or the flu. Situation that put you at great risk of infection include food poisoning and cleaning out cat litter trays. You may also want to check that you have had all your immunizations such as rubella, as your immune system is weaker in pregnancy.
If you are feeling unwell with a fever or shivers then contact your caregiver straight aware. You probably need antibiotics to clear an infection and may need admitted to hospital for further investigations.
8. Go To Appointments
During pregnancy you are scheduled appointments to get an overall health check each time. Things can change quickly in pregnancy and your care provider may need to refer you for further care. Your first appointment is essential to pick up on any conditions you may have or what support you need in pregnancy.
You will have regular bloods and be offered screening tests and scans to detect any issue with you or baby. Some conditions may put you at great risk of miscarriage and need managed to reduce this risk to you and baby. Use this time to ask your caregiver any questions or address any concerns.
9. Avoid Certain Foods
In pregnancy there are food which can make you ill or put your baby at risk. Food poisoning is a common cause of miscarriage, due to bacteria known as listeria toxoplasma or salmonella. Foods at greatest risk of contamination are:
- Unpasteurized Milk
- Blue or soft cheese
- Raw or under cooked meat
- Raw or under cooked eggs
- Raw Shellfish
Foods which can cause a risk to your baby include:
- Liver Products – Any food which contains high levels of vitamin A can be harmful to your baby. This is why you should avoid regular vitamin supplements as they include vitamin A.
- Deep Sea fish – Shark, swordfish and marlin should be avoided. Oily fish such as tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines and trout must be limited as they contain high levels of mercury which can affect baby’s brain development.
Eating fresh fruit and vegetable daily and take a vitamin supplement will half your risk of miscarriage. Remember to use a pregnancy specific vitamin supplement, click here for our top recommendations.
10. Get Stress under Control
Research shows that women who feel excessive stress in the first 3 months of pregnancy are more likely to miscarry. Try to identify exactly what triggers your stress throughout the day. Tips such as getting more sleep, better time management and relaxation techniques will all help relieve the stress.
Pregnancy itself can make you more stressed especially if you’ve miscarried before. You may want to ask your doctor if they can do an early scan if you feel it will ease your mind.
11. Brush Your Teeth
Poor dental hygiene puts you at greater risk of miscarriage than if you regularly attend a dentist. Pregnancy can really affect your teeth. The progesterone hormone can cause swelling, loose teeth, sensitivity and plaque. Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride based toothpaste for two minutes each time.
Regularly visit your dentist for routine appointments. If your gums are bleeding and it doesn’t resolve make an appointment with your dentist or hygienist. If you suffer a lot from morning sickness avoid brushing immediately. The acid can erode your teeth quickly. An alternative is to rinse your mouth with alcohol free mouthwash.
12. Know Your Genetics
Recurrent miscarriage can be caused by genetic disorders preventing baby from developing. If you have a family or pregnancy history affected by an abnormality you should seek genetic counseling. You will be offered both screening and diagnostic tests in pregnancy to detect your risk of genetic disorder.
If you have a family history of neural tube defect such as cystic fibrosis then taking folic acid can reduce this developing. Opt for a high 5mg dose is to improve your baby’s brain and spinal cord growth.