Are There Steps You Can Take to Decrease Risk of Miscarriage?
If you are newly pregnant, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do to decrease the risk of miscarriage. Pregnancy can be a wonderful and exciting time, but for a lot of women, it can also be a hard time. On top of morning sickness and general fears about what is it to come, some women may also have fear about a miscarriage.
I know that miscarriage was never really something that crossed my mind as a possibility until it happened to me and now, it's something that has become real to me. So many women I know have dealt with a pregnancy loss and every woman's story is different. Because the loss can vary in so many ways, it can be difficult to know why a loss happened or if there was anything that could have been done to prevent a loss. But if you've had a loss in the past or simply want to do your best to minimize the risk of miscarriage with a current pregnancy, here is some information that may help.
First of all, you should know that a miscarriage is never anyone's fault. The majority of miscarriages occur in the first trimester and as a result of chromosomal abnormalities; they are no one's fault, and they can't be predicted or prevented. A loss is a loss, no matter how “early” it occurs and the reason behind the loss may not bring any comfort, but many women struggle with feeling like a loss is their fault, and that is simply not the case.
So is there anything you can do to reduce your risk of a miscarriage? Outside of chromosomal abnormalities, there are a few possible links to miscarriage that you should be aware of. Please realize that these things are not proven to cause miscarriage, only that there is an association found in at least one study. An association means that researchers are exploring if there is a link, but that they can't definitely say that these things cause miscarriage yet.
Certain antibiotics. A May 2017 study found that there an association was found between miscarriage and certain antibiotics being used in the first trimester of pregnancy. The antibiotics were: quinolones, tetracyclines, sulfonamides, and metronidazole. Again, this does not mean that those antibiotics cause miscarriage, only that a link was found between them. There is also, unfortunately, a link between untreated infections and miscarriage as well. So if your doctor prescribes you antibiotics during your pregnancy, be sure to talk to him or her about your treatment options and how it could affect your pregnancy.
The flu vaccine. You may have seen the Sep 2017 study linking the flu vaccine to early miscarriage, which caused a lot of women to panic. But according to The Washington Post, the study did not prove that a flu vaccine causes miscarriage. Instead, there seemed to be a higher-than-normal amount of women who had miscarriages who also received the flu vaccine. Researchers are still studying if there is something else about those women that is linked to the miscarriage or if it was the flu vaccine itself. In the meantime, doctors are still encouraging women who are pregnant to get the flu vaccine, to prevent complications from the flu and if it's received at the end of pregnancy, passing it on to their newborn.
Smoking, alcohol, and caffeine. The ACOG notes that some research has suggested that smoking, alcohol, and excessive caffeine (we're talking a lot more than a cup or two of coffee a day!) have been associated with miscarriage, but even those are not 100% clear to cause miscarriage. Obviously, you should avoid smoking and alcohol even if you're not pregnant. But say you had a drink before you realized you were pregnant–it's not likely to lead to a miscarriage.
Recurrent miscarriages. A first-time miscarriage and even a second miscarriage are generally seen as “normal,” meaning that they are not cause for medical concern. However, if you have had three miscarriages in a row, it is best to see your doctor to ensure that there isn't an underlying medical reason for the losses. Some women, for example, have a certain blood clotting disorder that they may not realize until trying to conceive that can cause miscarriage and has a simple treatment.
If you are pregnant, definitely educate yourself and do your best to lead a healthy lifestyle, including avoiding smoking, alcohol, excessive caffeine, but also try to realize that there is never anything we can do to fully control the outcomes of our pregnancies. Stressing about the ways things can go wrong can be difficult for our mental health. So if you're feeling consumed by worry and anxiety, speak to your doctor or mental health professional. Also, try talking to other moms who can help you realize you are not alone.