The most traumatic pregnancy experience that can possibly be is that of losing a baby even before having one! The term as we know it is miscarriage - that is, when the baby dies in the womb before the 20th pregnancy week. If stats are to be believed, around 15 % of pregnancies that are identified or those that test positive, can end in a miscarriage.
Brutal fact is, there are some women who happen to miscarry even before they know that they are pregnant! Most miscarriages happen in the first trimester, that is before 13 weeks. Second trimester miscarriages are comparatively less in number. There are cases however, in which there is fetal loss post the 20th week, this is termed as fetal demise in utero.
- Chromosomal abnormalities are the prime cause of an early miscarriage. If there are chromosomal issues then the embryo is considered non-viable by the body and hence is expelled in the form of a miscarriage. At times, fertilization happens and implants take place but it fails to develop further. This is considered to be a blighted ovum and hence a miscarriage may occur.
- Smoking, alcohol consumption or drug abuse can all lead to a miscarriage. Once you have conceived avoid all of these. Remember, passive smoking is also harmful to the developing baby so ensure that you keep a distance from those who smoke.
- There are also certain health conditions in the mom like hormonal abnormalities, infections, uncontrolled diabetes and thyroid that can cause a miscarriage. Obesity also being one of them. So make sure you work towards reducing your weight and BMI to an ideal range before you conceive.
- The first step to prevent a miscarriage is in the planning phase. If you are of childbearing age and planning a baby, make sure that you get all your tests done to ensure there are no health conditions that can lead to a miscarriage.
- Cut off completely on smokes and drinks and ensure your husband is also a part of this detox time. One of the reasons to conceiving a blighted ovum is if the male sperm is not healthy. Ensure that both you and your husband visit the doctor and start taking supplements as prescribed.
- Ensure that you do not have any active infections like Rubella, Malaria, HIV, Dengue; that can cause an early miscarriage. Some of these have vaccinations available that can be taken if you are not immune. These vaccines cannot be taken once you have conceived so make sure you discuss the options with your doctor in the planning phase.
- There are some foods that cause infections and hence harm the unborn fetus. So make sure you avoid soft cheeses that are mould ripened, like blue cheese, raw eggs, excessive caffeine, raw or undercooked meat, shellfish, sushi, certain herbal teas et al. All these can cause a reaction in the mother or an infection which could trigger a miscarriage.
- At times the cause of a miscarriage can be identified and that makes it possible to prevent further miscarriages. For some women the cervix may be weak and hence dilates before the mom reaches full term. This is known as cervical incompetence. If this is the cause for a miscarriage in an earlier pregnancy your doctor will do a small operation to put a small stitch of strong thread around the cervix to keep it closed. This is generally done after you have completed 12 weeks and it is removed when you reach full term at about 37 weeks.
- Eating a healthy and balanced pregnancy diet with five to nine portions of fruits and vegetables daily will keep you well nourished and help sustain the pregnancy.
- A miscarriage can be a traumatic experience and most moms will blame themselves and burden themselves with the guilt. There are also many myths surrounding miscarriage. Rest assured that eating some ripe papaya or exercise or even working through a healthy pregnancy are not causes of a miscarriage.
- Work with your doctor to understand your own case and how you can avoid a miscarriage. Most of the time you can plan a pregnancy as early as three months post a miscarriage based on your doctor’s guidance.