Roughly 15 percent of all known pregnancies end in miscarriage.
A genetic abnormality occurring in the fetus leads to a miscarriage. Such a condition is often characterised by the tripling of a chromosome. These genetic abnormalities are far beyond the control of a mom-to-be. While Western medicine cannot prevent miscarriage in any definite way, there are plenty of precautions you can take.
A healthy lifestyle before and during the pregnancy may help in reducing the chances of miscarriage. Following are 8 lifestyle tips an eager mom-to-be can follow to have a successful pregnancy :
- Avoid smoking, alcohol, and drugs
The correlation between miscarriages and smoking is controversial and not fully understood, but numerous studies have found statistical links between exposure to cigarette smoke and risk of unsuccessful pregnancy. Probably one of the biggest ways that women can reduce miscarriage is by avoiding smoking and exposure to cigarette smoke.
The risk of miscarriage is not affected by occasional light drinking before conception, and recent research has found that having drunk heavily once or twice before finding out about a pregnancy is not likely to cause miscarriage.
However, regular intake of alcohol – especially while pregnant – is correlated with a higher risk of miscarriage.
Using drugs can be associated with increased risk of miscarriage. Marijuana intake may reduce oxygen supply to the baby, increasing the risk of low birth weight, preterm delivery, and stillbirth. Intake of methamphetamine’s and cocaine increases the risk of miscarriage.
- Get a handle on stress.
Low stress not only improves your overall mood, but staying relaxed significantly helps the health of your pregnancy. In one study, women who said they felt happy, relaxed, and in control were 60 percent less likely to have a miscarriage.
Stress-reducing techniques slow down the body and still the mind. They include meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, listening to your favourite music or reading. All of these techniques help you focus on the mind-body connection in ways that allow you to achieve a quieter, deeper perspective on events in life and things beyond your control.
- Monitor caffeine intake
It is suggested that pregnant women restrict their caffeine intake to no more than 200 milligrams a day, or roughly two 6-ounce cups of coffee, tea, or other caffeinated beverage. Decaf may seem like a great alternative, but it contains trace amounts of caffeine.
Reducing the intake of caffeine abruptly maybe difficult and the best way to do so would be to just take it slow and gradually reduce your coffee intake. Try having a smaller cup, switching to decaf, diluting your coffee with milk, or start drinking tea, which has some caffeine but much less than coffee.
- Well-balanced diet.
A well-balanced, healthy diet is the best way to get the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to nourish your baby.Try avoiding food that has lots of sugar and salt.
Loading up on a variety of fresh fruits and veggies every day can significantly lower your odds of having a miscarriage. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, at least five portions a day. Each portion should be the size of a good adult handful, but preferably more. Choose vegetables and fruits that are different in colours – orange, red, green, yellow, white and purple. Different coloured fruits and vegetables have different nutrients, so aim to ‘eat a rainbow!’ They are also a good source of fibre, which helps prevent constipation.
Fish, poultry, eggs, meat, beans and pulses, nuts, seeds, tofu, and other meat alternatives provide protein and important micro-nutrients such as iron and zinc. Protein builds new tissue for bones, muscles and organs, so it’s vital for your baby’s growth.
You can continue your usual exercise routine even after becoming pregnant, though it’s not the time to start training for your first marathon. Moderation is key: Excessive (seven hours or more per week) of high-impact exercise while pregnant could greatly increase the risk of miscarriage. Contact sports are also off the table for now, as they could lead to an injury or fall.
Having said that, it is important to remain active as it will boost your health and is good for your unborn baby, too. It can also help get your body ready for giving birth. Any activity that makes you feel warm and a little bit out of breath counts towards your exercise goal.
Walking briskly, going up and down the stairs, and putting a bit more energy into doing the housework or gardening all count.
- Cross-check any medicines you take with your doctor
Always run all the medication you are taking past your Obstetrician first to make sure it’s safe for your baby. Some BP lowering medicines (like ACE inhibitors, ARBs), pain-killers, immunosuppressive drugs etc, can cause fetal malformations and increase the chances of a miscarriage. If possible, avoid all medicines while you’re pregnant.
- Watch your weight.
Women who are very underweight or very overweight do suffer an increased risk of miscarriage. Obesity has been linked to a higher incidence of miscarriage and recurrent miscarriage. There is also some data that suggests that maternal obesity can increase risk. Obesity can also be an additive risk to a number of other factors associated with pregnancy loss. For example, obesity is sometimes associated with high blood pressure which can lead to miscarriages. Or, it can make diabetes harder to manage, increasing the risk of complications in the first 13 weeks. Certainly among women with PCOS, who already run a higher risk of miscarriage, being overweight only compounds an already difficult situation. Similarly, pregnancy at an older age and obesity are less than ideal combination in terms of miscarriage. Women should work to maintain a healthy weight before conception.
However, it is important to remember that the majority of women who are overweight do not have miscarriages. Moreover, obese women who have had a miscarriage usually go on to have a successful subsequent pregnancy, just like women of normal weight.
- Schedule a preconception visit with your gynaecologist
The doctor will review your lifestyle, check your medical history & examine you and take blood samples to check for Haemoglobin, Blood sugar, Thyroid, blood group & Rh factor. Preconceptional Folic acid supplementation is recommended to prevent certain malformations.
In the end, miscarriage or pregnancy loss can be caused by any number of reasons. It is often not possible to pinpoint the reason, but we tend to place the emphasis on the factors mentioned above. This is because, these are the factors that can be we are able to change and possibly improve the chance of an uneventful pregnancy.
Anyone can be subjected to miscarriage or pregnancy loss, but in most cases, a woman will carry her baby to term without complication if she tries again. In such an unfortunate event, focusing on the woman’s health, and finding emotional support to help through the process with a positive outlook are important. These, along with good medical care during the process of miscarriage itself, will increase the chances of a healthy and problem-free pregnancy he next time.