What Causes a Miscarriage?There is no single cause of miscarriage and often, miscarriage is a result of factors beyond the mother's control. While there are various reasons why miscarriages occur, they usually occur because of (or damages to) these two things:
- The product of pregnancy – the embryo was damaged and could not develop into a healthy baby.
- The environment – the embryo’s environment did not support its healthy development.
Other common miscarriage causes common to specific pregnancy trimesters include the following:
First-trimestergenetic abnormalities, blood clots (APS), ectopic pregnancy, placental problems
Second-trimesterinfections, chronic conditions, thyroid disease, fibroids and other uterus and cervix problems, lifestyle factors (smoking, alcohol, drug use, caffeine or coffee intake), environmental factors (exposure to chemicals like phthalates and xenoestrogens)
Third-trimesterpregnancy complications, birth defects, diabetes (uncontrolled), insufficient blood flow to the placenta, infection, umbilical cord problems
What is a stillbirth? When a miscarriage occurs during the third trimester, it is usually called a 'stillbirth'.
Miscarriages don’t exist without a cause. The delicate internal balance between hormones, nutrients and toxins in both partners determines what you will be passing onto the embryo and how your body will react to it. Be that as may the bottom line is – Healthy Couples are Fertile Couples!
5 Types of MiscarriageWhile all miscarriages result in pregnancy loss (except for threatened miscarriage), miscarriages are further classified into 5 kinds:
1. Complete MiscarriageThis is when the products of conception (or the embryo) empty out of the uterus. Here, bleeding and pain quickly subside. To confirm a complete miscarriage, your doctor will order an ultrasound or perform a D&C (dilatation and curettage) procedure.
2. Incomplete or Inevitable MiscarriageAn incomplete miscarriage is when there is bleeding and the cervix has dilated but the pregnancy tissue is still in the uterus. Symptoms of an inevitable miscarriage include bleeding and cramping. Usually, the miscarriage will progress without further intervention.
3. Missed MiscarriageA missed or silent miscarriage is when there are no symptoms (like bleeding and cramping) but the pregnancy failed to develop.
4. Recurrent MiscarriageRecurrent miscarriage or recurrent pregnancy loss is when you have two or more miscarriages. In women with recurrent miscarriage, no cause can be identified 50 to 75% of the time.
5. Threatened MiscarriageThis is what you call bleeding and abdominal pain that pregnant women experience while the pregnancy is still viable. While spotting is common in the first trimester, vaginal bleeding (or anything more substantial than spotting) is called a threatened miscarriage.
Other Kinds of Pregnancies That Result in MiscarriageThere are other pregnancies that result in miscarriage. They include ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy and blighted ovum:
Ectopic PregnancyAn ectopic pregnancy is when the embryo implants outside the uterus and usually in one of the fallopian tubes. This can happen due to blocked fallopian tubes (90% of the time) and other unknown factors and it affects 1 to 2% of all pregnancies.
Molar PregnancyCharacterized by abnormal growth, a molar pregnancy is where a non-viable egg implants itself into the uterus.
Blighted OvumIn the case of a blighted ovum, a fertilized egg implants in the uterine wall, but the egg never develops into an embryo.
Miscarriage SymptomsVaginal bleeding (or spotting) is the main symptom of miscarriage. However, other symptoms may be present, like the following:
- abdominal cramping or pain
- back pain
- weight loss
- vaginal discharge (fluid)
- vaginal discharge of clotted tissue
7 Ways to Prevent a MiscarriageHow to prevent miscarriage? While in most cases miscarriages are inevitable (especially those caused by genetic abnormalities in the embryo), there are ways to help your body become more conducive to a healthy pregnancy. Here are 5 ways you can minimize the risk of or prevent miscarriage and maximize your chances of taking home a healthy baby:
1. Could You Be Zinc Deficient?Zinc is the most important mineral for the reproductive system when you want to prevent miscarriage. Zinc deficiency, among many other things, impairs the body’s ability to properly maintain pregnancy in women and produce healthy sperm in men.
Unfortunately, zinc competes for absorption with most of the nutrients from food and is often called the “lonely mineral”. This means it is one of the minerals which is most likely to be deficient. On top of that, artificial hormones in the form of oral contraceptives and ovulation drugs significantly reduce its levels further.
Some Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency:
- Frequent colds and infections
- White spots on fingernails
- Mental exhaustion
- Poor appetite
- Dry skin and hair
- Poor sense of taste and smell
How to Boost Your Zinc Levels:
- Some good sources of zinc are lean meat, whole grains, egg yolk and oysters.
- Take a zinc supplement last thing at night to ensure its absorption.
2. Boost Your Progesterone LevelsFor pregnancy to be maintained, Progesterone (a.k.a pregnancy hormone) needs to be at the optimal level. Progesterone deficiency is characterized by PMS and short cycles and is often referred to as a luteal phase defect.
How to Boost Your Progesterone Levels:
- Ensure you have an adequate intake of magnesium and vitamin B6 for the production of progesterone to prevent miscarriage.
- Eat foods like seeds, nuts and egg yolk are rich in B vitamins and dark green leafy vegetables, legumes and nuts since they are a good source of magnesium.
- It's likely that non-organically grown foods are depleted of these vitamins and minerals. You may need to supplement to get optimal therapeutic doses of each. Or you can eat organic fruit and vegetables instead.
3. Increase Your Vitamin C IntakeThe strength of the lining of your uterus (womb) is crucial when you are trying to conceive and prevent miscarriage. More commonly than not, when the connective tissue is weak, the embryo will not be able to attach or stay attached. The quality of the connective tissue and blood vessels depends on how much vitamin C and bioflavonoids are present in the body. Bioflavonoids help the body absorb more vitamin C and also contribute to the strength of the connective tissue.
Where Do You Find Vitamin C?
- Citrus fruits (preferably lemons, limes and grapefruits)
- Berries, on the other hand, are loaded with bioflavonoids
4. Butt It out for GoodMiscarriages more commonly occur when the male partner has low sperm counts and visually abnormal sperm. Smoking severely impacts the quality and quantity of sperm. Scientists have discovered that when men quit smoking for 5 to 15 months, sperm count is increased by 50 to 800% on average respectively, which aids in helping to prevent miscarriage.
Here Is How to Give It up for Good:
- Set a date to quit
- Tell all those close to you that you are quitting (this adds to the commitment)
- If both partners smoke, quit together
- When the date arrives, throw out all the smoking paraphernalia (ex. cigarettes, ashtrays) from your home or car
- When you get the urge to light up get up, walk, take a few breaths of fresh air and have some water instead
- Change your routines to reduce the association with smoking (coffee, drinks and parties)
- Your body’s addiction to nicotine only lasts for 3 days
- It takes 21 days to get rid of the old habit and to acquire a new habit
- Nature abhors a vacuum! So if you give up something make sure you replace it with something else that’s good for you.
5. Put That Drink Down and Give up CoffeeWhen trying to conceive it is best to stay clear of all the alcohol and prevent miscarriage. Alcohol is very harmful to female eggs and male sperm. As little as ONE glass of coffee can reduce fertility by 50%! This can lead to damage to the developing embryo and result in a miscarriage.
Are you aware of the scientific fact that drinking coffee before and during pregnancy doubles the risk of miscarriage? Studies have found that drinking as little as one cup of coffee per day increases the risk of non-conceiving by 55%. Every additional cup raises the risk even further, making it difficult to prevent miscarriage.
There are great coffee substitutes available in health food shops and you might want to give them a try.
6. Optimal Preconception CareOptimal preconception care started well before you try to conceive has been found to reduce most of the common causes of miscarriages. Preconception care involves a detailed diet plan, but to get you started, here are some foods that can help to prevent miscarriage:
- Anti-inflammatory foods – vegetables, fruit, legumes/pulses, deep-sea fish, nuts and seeds plus turmeric and olive oil.
- Antioxidant foods – Brightly colored fruit and vegetables such as berries, cherries, carrots, tomatoes and green leafy vegetables.
- Good fats – Fish, avocado, nuts & seeds plus good quality vegetable oils such as olive oil.
- how to boost your fertility naturally and prevent miscarriage (with exact therapeutic dosages of nutrients and food sources)
- as well as dozens or more natural fertility strategies,
7. Take Herbs to Prevent MiscarriageThere are many herbs to prevent miscarriage; however, the correct herbal remedy needs to be taken at a therapeutic dose to be effective. Speak to your Naturopath about the herbs and dosage that is specific to you to help you to prevent miscarriage. If you have previously experienced a miscarriage, you need to test to find out which herbs will prevent miscarriage for you.
How to Prevent Miscarriage: Herbs That May Prevent Miscarriage
- Vitex agnus castus (Chaste tree) - Chaste tree is another beneficial way to boost progesterone levels if your progesterone is low.
- Rehmannia glutinosa (Rehmannia) - Rehmannia helps to reduce inflammation and antibodies.
- Viburnum opulus (Cramp bark) - Cramp bark helps to reduce uterine spasm
- Viburnum prunifolium (Black haw) - Similar to Cramp bark, Black haw is specific for uterine pain and spasm and has been used for hundreds of years for threatened miscarriage.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2015, May). Clinical Management Guidelines for Obstetricians - Gynecologists: Early Pregnancy Loss. In ACOG. Retrieved from: https://www.acog.org/Clinical-Guidance-and-Publications/Practice-Bulletins/Committee-on-Practice-Bulletins-Gynecology/Early-Pregnancy-Loss?IsMobileSet=false
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2016, May). Frequently Asked Questions Pregnancy: Repeated Miscarriages. In ACOG. Retrieved from: https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Repeated-Miscarriages?IsMobileSet=false
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2018, February). Frequently Asked Questions Pregnancy: Ectopic Pregnancy. In ACOG. Retrieved from: https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Ectopic-Pregnancy?IsMobileSet=false#what
Dugas, C., & Slane, V. H. (2019). Miscarriage. In StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532992/
Innocent.D, J.P., Suseela, M.R, Prathba, G. (2013). Comprehensive Study on the Profession and the Prevalence of Antisperm Antibodies among Infertile Male Population. International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications (IJSRP), 3(4). Retrieved from: http://www.ijsrp.org/research-paper-0413/ijsrp-p1643.pdf
Hakim, R. B., Gray, R. H., & Zacur, H. (1998). Alcohol and caffeine consumption and decreased fertility. Fertility and sterility, 70(4), 632-637. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9797089