Risk of Miscarriage

October 28, 2021

Miscarriages are devastating, especially if you have been trying to get pregnant for a long time, or have been going through fertility treatment. We understand that dealing with a miscarriage can be emotionally draining, however, whatever you’re going through, it is completely natural and normal.

We know how easy it can be to want to blame yourself, but it is important to note that the majority of miscarriages are not caused by something the mother has done – the female reproductive system is very complex and sophisticated, and it can recognise any fetal abnormalities early on to ensure it’s developing a healthy baby.

Here at The Evewell, we are ready to help you and support you throughout your journey. Read on to learn more about the risk of miscarriage and what can help prevent miscarriages.

What is a Miscarriage?

A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy during the first 23 weeks, however, more than 80% of miscarriages occur during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. After the first trimester, the miscarriage rate reduces rapidly.

Miscarriages are not as uncommon as it might seem – among women who know they’re pregnant, it’s estimated about 1 in 8 pregnancies end in miscarriage, however, most of them occur due to chromosomal abnormalities.

The main sign of a miscarriage is vaginal bleeding, which may be followed by cramping pain in the lower abdomen. It is worth noting that light vaginal bleeding is relatively common during the first trimester of pregnancy and does not necessarily mean you’re having a miscarriage.

What Causes Miscarriages?

Often, the cause of a miscarriage is not identified, however, about 3 in 4 miscarriages happen during the first trimester, which is caused by chromosomal abnormalities in the foetus – if it hasn’t got enough or has too many chromosomes, the female body gets the signal that the baby won’t develop properly and decides to let the pregnancy go.

If a miscarriage happens after the first trimester of the pregnancy, it might be a result of an underlying health condition in the mother. For most women, a miscarriage is a one-off event and they can have a successful pregnancy in the future – read more about pregnancy after miscarriage here.

There are several types of miscarriages:

  1. Threatened Miscarriage: Threatened miscarriage doesn’t necessarily mean you will certainly miscarry – it occurs when the body is showing signs of a possible miscarriage, such as vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain, while the cervix remains closed, which can last days or weeks. The pain might go away and you can continue having a healthy pregnancy.
  1. Inevitable Miscarriage: Inevitable miscarriage can come after a threatened miscarriage or without a warning. Usually, there is more vaginal bleeding and pain, and the cervix opens to allow the fetus to come away with the bleeding.
  1. Complete Miscarriage: a complete miscarriage has happened once all the pregnancy tissue has left the uterus. Vaginal bleeding and strong cramping pain are very common – this is the uterus contracting to empty itself.
  1. Incomplete Miscarriage: an incomplete miscarriage is defined when not all pregnancy tissue has left the uterus. As the uterus is still trying to empty itself, strong cramping pain and vaginal bleeding may continue. Your doctor will assess whether the pregnancy tissue needs to be removed with medical treatment.
  1. Missed Miscarriage: also known as silent or delayed miscarriage, missed miscarriage usually doesn’t show any symptoms at all and is only diagnosed during a routine ultrasound scan during your antenatal care. 
  1. Recurrent Miscarriage: if a woman has gone through three or more consecutive miscarriages, this is defined as recurrent miscarriages – this is a very rare occurrence and it only affects 1% of the couples trying to conceive.

Miscarriage Symptoms

The most common symptom of a miscarriage is vaginal bleeding – it can vary from light spotting or brownish discharge to heavy bleeding and bright red blood clots.

Other symptoms of a miscarriage include:

  • Cramping and pain in the lower abdomen;
  • Vaginal discharge of fluid or tissue;
  • No longer experiencing the symptoms of pregnancy, such as breast tenderness or feeling sick.

How to Prevent Miscarriage?

In many cases, the causes of a miscarriage are unknown therefore can’t be prevented but there are ways that can lower the risk of miscarriage.

What can help prevent miscarriages:

  • Not smoking during pregnancy;
  • Not drinking alcohol or using drugs during pregnancy;
  • Eating a healthy and balanced diet;
  • Taking Folic acid and Vitamin D and having thyroid levels checked
  • Avoiding certain infections during pregnancy, such as rubella;
  • Avoiding certain foods during pregnancy;
  • Being a healthy weight before getting pregnant – learn more about weight and fertility here.

It is important to note that these steps are not a sure way to prevent miscarriage, as in most cases miscarriages occur due to genetic abnormalities. This also doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you or your partner – the pregnancy simply ends because it’s not viable.

How to Reduce Risk of Miscarriage Through Diet?

A healthy weight and diet are very important to maintain to keep yourself and the baby healthy – read more about the fertility diet here.

To help reduce the risk of miscarriage, certain food products should be avoided during pregnancy:

  1. Unpasteurised dairy products

Unpasteurised dairy products may contain listeria, a bacteria that causes an infection called listeriosis.

Avoid soft cheeses like brie, camembert, goat’s cheese, soft blue cheeses such as danish blue, gorgonzola and Roquefort, unless cooked until steaming hot.

  1. Certain types of meat

Eating raw or undercooked meat might increase the risk of getting toxoplasmosis, which can cause miscarriage. Also avoid liver and liver products, all types of pâté (including vegetarian pâté) and wild game meats such as goose, partridge or wild duck. Also, be careful with cold cured meats such as prosciutto, salami, pepperoni or chorizo – it’s best if they have been cooked thoroughly.

  1. Fish

Avoid marlin, swordfish, shark and raw shellfish due to pollutants, toxins and bacteria they may contain. You should also limit tuna as it contains more mercury than any other fish – too much mercury could be harmful to the baby.

Also, limit the intake of oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel or herring to no more than 2 portions per week.

  1. Raw or partially cooked eggs

Eating raw or partially cooked eggs might cause salmonella, which isn’t dangerous to the baby but can give you food poisoning. Regardless of the type of egg, whether it’s hen, duck or quail, make sure the egg whites and yolks have been cooked thoroughly and are solid.

  1. Other food and drinks

Caffeine: You can have caffeine but not more than 200 g per day. Remember that soft drinks, energy drinks, tea, milk and dark chocolate also contain caffeine.

Alcohol: Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can lead to long-term harm to your baby. It’s safest to not drink alcohol at all during pregnancy.

Herbal teas: Limit your herbal tea intake to up to 4 cups a day.

Liquorice: Avoid eating liquorice root, however, liquorice is safe to eat.

Fruits, vegetables and salads: Ensure these have been washed thoroughly and don’t contain soil, which might make you feel unwell.

Peanuts: Only avoid eating peanuts if you have a nut allergy or have been advised by your doctor

Vitamins: Avoid taking high-dose vitamin supplements, or any supplements with vitamin A in them. Read more about fertility vitamins here.

Reducing the risk of miscarriage with treatments

In case of underlying health issues like some listed below, there are investigations and treatments to help reduce the risk of miscarriage

  1. Antiphospholipid syndrome:  Antiphospholipid syndrome, also known as Hughes syndrome, is a blood clotting condition, which can be treated with medication to help improve the pregnancy outcomes for women with this condition.
  1. Weakened cervix : Cervical weakness, also known as cervical insufficiency, is a recognised cause of late miscarriage when the cervix is lax and opens up too early. It can be treated after the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy, it can be treated with an operation to put a small stitch of strong thread around the cervix to keep it closed.

How Can We Help?

Here at The Evewell, we are fertility experts with 20+ years of experience. Whether you need help trying to get pregnant, have experienced a miscarriage or need emotional support, we are ready to help you. Please get in touch by emailing us at info@evewell.com or calling us on 020 3974 0950

 

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