10 Common Causes of Miscarriage & Natural Lifestyle Tips For Prevention
Miscarriages are common for women to experience, although a taboo topic to discuss in many circles. Not speaking about them makes miscarriages seem much more rare than they actually are!
As a holistic fertility practitioner, and doula, I speak and work with many women that have miscarried, some more than once.
A miscarriage, medically termed "spontaneous abortion" is the sudden end of pregnancy and loss of a fetus that occurs before the 20th week of gestation.
On paper, statistically, about 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. But the actual number is higher because all miscarriages aren't counted. When you include pregnancies that go undetected, or mistaken for a late period, ONE in THREE pregnancies end in miscarriage.
Bottom line, miscarriages are very very common.
And for women, knowing just how common miscarriages are can shift our mindset from “what’s wrong with me?” to “this is something that happens sometimes.” This realization allows us to empower ourselves with the right information to help improve our fertility outcomes.
Here are 10 common causes of miscarriages.
1. Chromosomal Abnormalities
Chromosomal abnormalities are the leading cause of miscarriages in women. The most common reason that an embryo (<10 weeks) or fetus doesn’t survive is that it is not viable because of genetic abnormalities.
This means the fetus is developing with a genetic issue that would make it is unable to survive outside the womb or further along in pregnancy. Certain genes in a developing baby may be missing or causing abnormal growth of the baby or placenta. The baby also may have the wrong number of chromosomes.
In many cases this results in miscarriage due to the natural intelligence of mother's body and fetus. The mother’s body or the fetus itself recognizes it is unable to survive and ends the pregnancy.
Blighted ovum and molar pregnancies are examples of chromosomal abnormalities.
2. Nutrient Deficiences
Nutrient deficiences are also a cause of miscarriage. I can not stress just how important nutrition is for a pregnant woman and her developing baby. Many nutrients are essential to maintain healthy hormone levels for a full term pregnancy: quality protein, healthy fats, vitamin A, vitamin D, several B vitamins, folate, selenium, iron, iodine, choline, copper and magnesium to name a few.
Deficiencies in these important nutrients during key developmental times in pregnancy can affect fetus development, and the health of mom.
3. Poor Sperm Quality
While traditional narratives typically focus on the mother’s role in miscarriage and infertility, the quality of the father’s sperm can have a significant impact on miscarriage. Most men don't realize they have poor sperm health until they a trying to impregnate a woman.
A man's sperm health is affected by different factors like abuse of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs, hormonal imbalances, high-stress lifestyle, infections, exposure to poison or radiation, and prior injury or surgery to the groin area.
4. Autoimmune Disease
Women who suffer from autoimmune diseases are at a higher risk for miscarriage. While many women with autoimmune disease have healthy babies, sometimes it can be a contributing factor to miscarriage.
Some of the autoimmune conditions that have been linked to miscarriage include:
- Autoimmune Hepatitis
- Thyroid disease (Hashimoto's & Graves)
- Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome
5. Hormonal Imbalances
Hormonal imbalances can cause miscarriage and even recurrent miscarriages. Hormonal imbalance is the presence of too much or too little hormones in the bloodstream. Hormones are the chemical messengers found in the endocrine system of your body that are circulated and transported through your bloodstream and perform certian actions on target organs, thereby telling your organs what to do and how to do it.
All hormones needed for the development and growth of your unborn baby and your wellness should be available in the right proportion and concentration. Your thyroid, prolactin, progesterone, insulin and cortisol hormone balance are all important.
Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) are at three times higher risk for miscarriage. As I just mentioned, hormonal imbalances play a key role. Research reveals elevated levels of insulin, blood sugar dysregulation and inflammation in women with PCOS may cause this unfortunate phenomenon.
Many women with PCOS can and do go on to have full-term pregnancies, please do not despair if you are trying to get pregnant with PCOS. With the appropriate support, plant, natural supplementing and lifestyle changes women with PCOS can certainly improve their odds.
7. Uterine Abnormalities
Uterine abnormalities can affect pregancy and cause a miscarriage. Conditions like a thin uterine lining, a septate uterus, a blocked fallopian tube, scar tissue to form in the uterus, and large cysts or fibroids contribute. Endometriosis has been linked to an eighty-percent increased chance of miscarriage. Cervical imcompetence can contribute to miscarriages as well.
Unfortunately, some of these conditions often remain undiagnosed until a woman experiences a loss of pregnancy.
For example, an ectopic pregnancy is the most common complication of blocked fallopian tubes. This happens when a fertilized egg develops outside of the mother's uterus. Ectopic pregnancy is considered a life-threatening emergency and requires immediate medical attention.
8. Underdeveloped Placenta
The placenta is the magical organ that develops during pregnancy to sustain your baby’s growth, blood and nutrient supply. When the placenta does not develop properly a miscarriage can happen. The placenta not only provides nutrients to your baby, but it removes waste from the baby through the umbilical cord.
The placenta helps to pass on the necessary antibodies to the baby from the mother and emits the hormones that help keep a pregnancy viable. If this critical organ doesn’t grow properly or grow large enough to do its job a miscarriage can happen.
9. Environmental Toxins
Smoking, alcohol, heavy metals, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, solvents, pesticides, pollution, and radiation have all been linked to miscarriage, preterm delivery, low birth weight, and birth defects. If a mother is exposed to high levels of any of these chemicals, loss of pregnancy may result.
I like to remind women that it's important to consider our thoughts, feelings and emotional state when dealing with our health too. Unhealthy thoughts, negative self-talk, panic and fear contribute to a toxic inner environment. This cause real physiological changes in your body, alter your hormone levels and can negatively impact pregnancy and cause a miscarriage.
10. Blood Sugar Levels
High blood sugar levels early in pregnancy have been shown to increase the risk of miscarriage, cause diabetes-related complications, and even go on to cause birth defects. Getting a good handle on your blood sugar levels before becoming pregnant makes for some good preventative medicine.
Women with blood sugar problems and diabetes do have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies, but they also do need to plan for extra complications that pregnancy can bring to their body.
Natural Lifestyle Tips for Miscarriage Prevention
It's important to understand that not all miscarriages can be prevented, and having a miscarriage does not mean you did anything wrong. But while there are some things you can't control, there are some things you can control.
Here are some natural lifestyle tips to help improve your pregnancy outcome and prevent a miscarriage.
- Be proactive and develop a wellness attitude and mindset.
- Meet with your trusted health provider to ensure you're getting proper prenatal care.
- Take a quality prenatal vitamin prior to conceiving and during pregnancy to support you and baby. I always recommend herbal real food prenatals with bioavailable vitamins and minerals to help fill nutrient gaps in your diet. Purchase my prenatal herbs
- Learn to incorporate stress-reducing habits like exercise, meditation, journaling, more laughter, walking, dancing, singing or hanging out with friends.
- Avoid smoking, alcohol, and drug use while pregnant.
- Make sure your meals are properly prepared to avoid infection and food borne illness.
- Eat nutrient dense foods with plenty of quality protein and vegetables to help maintain healthy bloos sugar levels.
As always, you can contact me for holistic prenatal consulting. Leave me a message in the chatbox.
Love and health,