Research has shown that the risk of having miscarriage is significantly lower in women aged 20 to 24, but in women who are 45 years of age or over the risk increases to almost 75%.
Not only is it more difficult for women to conceive as they mature, but carrying a baby to term becomes more difficult. The chance of conceiving a baby with a chromosomal abnormality also increases with age, as does the likelihood of having a multiple birth. It is not only the woman's age which has an impact either; her partner's age is also a factor. The combined age of a couple can be an indicator for the likelihood of carrying a baby to term.
Not only does carrying too much fat reduce the chances of conceiving, having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 25, being overweight, or being obese also increases the risk of miscarriage. The chances of having pregnancy and delivery complications are also magnified when overweight. The risks of having recurrent miscarriages are also increased; it makes sense then to lose weight even before conceiving.
There is no magic answer to losing weight, other than eating less than your body requires for energy. Weight loss programs, meal replacements, support groups and weight loss clubs all provide choice when it comes to how to lose extra pounds.
But the simple truth is that dieting does not work, nor is willpower a factor in successful weight loss. Carrying extra pounds may be less about the amount of food being eaten and more about satisfying emotional needs.
Many women give up smoking when they are trying to conceive or stop abruptly when their pregnancy is confirmed. The benefits of quitting begin to accumulate almost immediately after the last cigarette. It is worthwhile to view the costs and effects of smoking not just on the lungs but the entire body, including the reproductive system.
Drinking alcohol also increases the risk of having a stillborn baby. If you are planning to conceive or are already pregnant, you would be wise to adopt a no drinking stance. There is no level of alcohol which is considered safe for pregnant women and there are no health benefits for either you or your baby. Be imaginative about having other drinks that don’t contain alcohol, such as soda or mineral waters, fruit juice, milk or other alternatives.
For most women, a miscarriage occurs only once and does not reduce the likelihood of being able to conceive again. Although it is normal to look for answers as to why it occurs, in most cases, there is no definite reason why miscarriage happens. Sometimes, the product of conception —namely blood and tissue—is sent to a laboratory for analysis. This tends to only happen when a woman has experienced multiple miscarriages and a genetic, chromosomal abnormality is suspected.
The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.