Although it may be frustrating to hear – or read – miscarriages are very normal; about 1 in 5 pregnancies result in a miscarriage. Unfortunately, this subject matter can be so hush-hush, that many women aren’t aware how common they really are. In most cases, a miscarriage is the result of an unpreventable genetic abnormality. However, there are things women can do to reduce the risk of miscarriage, increasing their chances of enjoying a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
Keep in mind that 75% of women who experience miscarriage – even multiple times – eventually enjoy successful pregnancies. Here are five of the things we feel are most important when it comes to reducing the chances of miscarriage.
1. Prioritize your health. Just as genetic abnormalities can cause miscarriage, so can undiagnosed and/or untreated medical conditions. Visit your OB/GYN annually to promote reproductive health. Always be honest and please request screening for STDs if you are at risk. Herpes, gonorrhea, HIV, syphilis and other STDs can increase your chances of miscarrying and can also harm your unborn baby. Make sure you eat well, and try to eat pesticide-free foods as much as you can. Studies have shown a link between pesticides and miscarriage. Being under- or over-weight can also be a factor. Your OB/GYN can review your lifestyle and medical history to help you make the necessary changes to increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy.
2. Quit drinking, smoking, and/or doing drugs. Most women know that these behaviors can lead to health problems for the baby, ingesting alcohol, tobacco products and/or narcotics can also increase your chances of miscarrying. If you are planning on getting pregnant and struggle with cigarette, alcohol or drug dependency, please let your doctor know. Your healthcare provider can connect you with a variety of resources that can help you quit.
3. Maintain a healthy BMI. Exercise is no different. Many people don’t know that a woman’s body mass index (BMI) correlates with her odds for a natural conception and healthy pregnancy. Women at both the lower and higher ends of the BMI spectrum have a more difficult time conceiving as well as higher miscarriage rates. An optimal BMI for women trying to conceive is between 18.5 and 24.9. You can use a BMI calculator to get an indication of where yours might be. If the results are a cause for concern, speak with your doctor or a healthcare professional about a plan to reach your target BMI.
4. Exercise in moderation. It seems like almost every Rule for Healthy Living can be boiled down to a single word: Moderation. Regular exercise is a good thing. However, if you participate in more extreme forms of exercise, such as marathons or mountain bike racing, that require more intense workouts than normal, you are increasing your risk of miscarriage. Women with demanding exercise schedules often have a BMI below the healthy range. Hard falls or injuries pose risks. Also, experts think that continuous exercise keeps the internal body at higher-than-normal temperatures and reduce the blood supply to the fetus, both of which may be factors.
5. Putting off pregnancy. The longer you wait to get pregnant, the harder it is to conceive and your risk of a miscarriage also increases. This is because the risk of chromosomal abnormalities goes up and, as mentioned above, these abnormalities are the leading cause of miscarriage. Understand that at the age of 40, you are two times more likely to have a miscarriage as you were at the age of 20. Waiting until you are 40 to start a family may require additional reproductive assistance.
Other factors that can affect your miscarriage risk include hormonal imbalance, anatomical causes such as a misshapen uterus or large fibroids, or immunological disorders. Routine visits with a caring OB/GYN go a long way toward early detection and treatment of issues that may increase your risk of miscarriage.Contact Overlake OB/GYN to meet with doctors and midwives who put the health of mothers and babies first.