Miscarriage is a painful experience but more common than most people realize. Recurrent, also called repeated, miscarriages affect a small number of women, only about one percent. Recurrent miscarriages typically have an underlying cause and ways to address them to decrease chances of them continuing. It is important to seek medical treatment to determine the most likely cause for your individual situation.
Common Causes of Recurring Miscarriages
The most common causes of recurring miscarriages share several causes with miscarriages in general, such as chromosomal abnormalities, uterine abnormalities and what is called an incompetent cervix. An incompetent cervix means it is too weak to hold the fetus inside. Other causes that are more common for recurrent miscarriages include bacterial infections, untreated illnesses like diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and some types of autoimmune diseases and immunological disorders. Chronic conditions increase the risk of repeated miscarriages, but there are ways to treat them when planning pregnancy to reduce the risks. Immunological disorders refer to the way the immune system functions to fight off infections and other illnesses. In some women, a disordered immune system will not recognize the fetus and will attack it leading to miscarriage.
Ways to Reduce Miscarriage Risks
There are many ways to reduce miscarriage risk in general, including preparing for pregnancy, engaging in a healthy lifestyle and knowing of your risks so that a plan can be made to minimize them in advance. The problem is that you may not be able to determine your greatest risk factors until you have already experienced at least one miscarriage. This is why it is beneficial to eat a well-balanced diet, avoid unhealthy habits like smoking and excessive drinking and seek care for any known illnesses that may affect your ability to carry a healthy pregnancy. Making healthy choices before pregnancy may help you to prepare your body and to reduce risk factors. Reducing stress and recognizing that miscarriage is not your fault can also help you prepare for another pregnancy. You should maintain contact with your doctor for testing and to gather facts about your individual risks as early as possible. There are also specific steps that can be taken to reduce recurrent miscarriage dependent on the particular cause. Your doctor is best able to determine what your likely cause is and then suggest the most appropriate steps.
These steps may include:
- A simple procedure to put a stitch in the cervix to address an incompetent cervix.
- Surgery is also an option to correct a uterus abnormality if it is recognized.
- Bed rest is a common choice to address miscarriage risk. Bed rest helps reduce stress, control activity levels that may be risky (such as a tendency to lift or carry heavy objects or to stand for long periods of time) and helps you keep your feet elevated to decrease risk of pre-eclampsia or other conditions. Bed rest varies and may only be for a certain number of hours each day or complete bed rest depending on your needs.
- Use of supplements may also be advised. This can include high doses of certain vitamins specific to your unique need or the use of aspirin to thin the blood as this addresses certain other risks. Your doctor may also look for different ways to treat chronic conditions through supplements and specific dietary guidance. There is some evidence that some herbal preparations may also help, but this is something you should consult with your provider about as well.
- More extensive monitoring may be necessary throughout your pregnancy than what is typical. This allows your doctor to run tests throughout and recognize difficulties or risks earlier to provide guidance or treatment.
The most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of recurrent miscarriages is to strive for an overall healthy lifestyle including stress reduction. Becoming pregnant should be a time of joy, but for women with a history of miscarriage worry can raise stress levels and inhibit the joy while also increasing the risks.
Some ways that you can reduce your stress levels are:
- Practice relaxation breathing. This will also help you during birth, so it is beneficial to learn and use it early.
- Meditate, even if it is just a five-minute silence break.
- Take time for yourself. Whether that is an extra long shower or laying in bed with a book for pleasure, find ways to treat yourself that encourage relaxation.
- Use aromatherapy, either with essential oils or candles, to set a relaxing mood.
- Set small goals that help you to feel you have accomplished things and are in control of the things you can be.
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration is not only dangerous to your body but directly affects your emotions.
- Get sufficient sleep.