Does Nutrition Prevent Miscarriage? Reduce Risks of Complications During Pregnancy and Childbirth with Guidance from a Prenatal Dietitian Nutritionist

According to the Mayo Clinic, between 10 and 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. Miscarriage is technically the loss of a pregnancy before reaching the 20th week (with most miscarriages happening before the 12th week). When the body miscarries, it’s likely the fetus was not developing as expected. The majority are due to genetic instability (too many embryonic chromosomes in dividing cells). This doesn’t make having a miscarriage easy, and it can be heartbreaking for many parents-to-be. It’s important for women and couples to know that miscarriages don’t necessarily mean the gestating mother was doing anything wrong.

There are some factors and habits that can increase your risk of miscarriage.

Caffeine. Keep coffee to two to three cups a day. There have been recent studies that show excessive coffee drinking can increase the risk of miscarriage.

Health factors. Mothers who have diabetes, thyroid disease, infections, hormonal problems, and problems with their cervix are more at risk for miscarriage. Make sure you’re being treated for all conditions by your primary care physician and ObGyn. You can learn to manage diabetes with a diet plan from an RDN. 

Age. The older the mother, the higher the chances of miscarriage – from 20% at 35 to 80% at 45. 

Drug and alcohol abuse increase the chance of miscarriage, as does smoking.

Weight. Being underweight or overweight can increase the chances of miscarriage. 

Increased nutrition and exercise counseling are important for women to experience a healthy pregnancy, labor, and postpartum healing. Working with a dietitian nutritionist can help reduce the risks of miscarriage and other complications.

Here’s how.

Reach a healthy weight. Reach, and sustain, a healthy weight with an individualized diet plan that works for you. Ideally, you’ll be at a healthy weight before getting pregnant. This will reduce your chances of developing gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and preeclampsia. 

Get supplement support. Prenatals, or prenatal vitamins, are really important, and we’d argue all women should be taking them to ensure they’re getting the nutrients they and their developing babies, need. If you’re even considering getting pregnant, take folate (folic acid) and continue taking it through your first trimester. This will help reduce neural tube defects

A healthy, nutrient-rich, diet and lifestyle can play an important role in reducing the risk of miscarriage. While there is no guarantee that good nutrition alone will prevent miscarriage, it can help create a healthy environment for a developing fetus and increase the chances of a successful pregnancy.