By Ernst Lamothe Jr.
For pregnant women, a miscarriage is an unexpected and emotionally devastating loss. Physician Angelle A. Brebnor, an OB-GYN and clinical assistant professor at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at University at Buffalo, understands that effects it can have on a woman.
Miscarriage, which is the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy in the first 22 weeks, is the most common type of pregnancy loss. About 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, according to the Mayo Clinic. The risk of miscarriages can change with age and history.
“Unfortunately, it is difficult to pinpoint all the reasons for the miscarriage,” said Brebnor. “That doesn’t make it any easier for families to deal with. It is very important to know most times there is nothing the mother or father could do to prevent it from happening.”
Brebnor, who provides services at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo as well as Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, said women should have at least five things in mind when it comes to miscarriage.
1. Talk with your doctor
While the decision to have children is an intimate conversation between partners, she suggests having a talk with a physician early-on. A simple pre-consultation or overall exam can help, especially in high-risk pregnancies, which includes potential parents with high blood pressure or diabetes, taking multiple medications or having a family history of illness.pressure, diabetes, taking multiple medication or family history illness.
Brebnor says the pre-conception visit can be essential to avoiding obstacles during pregnancy. Patients have come with diabetes, thyroid conditions, blood clots and other medical ailments.
“It’s incredibly important to have that visit where you can talk with your doctor about your family history and conditions that might affect your pregnancy,” she said.
Brebnor believes ensuring proper nutrition is key to a successful pregnancy. That includes prenatal vitamins with folic acid.
“Vitamins should be taken at least a month before pregnancy if possible,” she said. “Prenatal vitamins have been known to reduce the number of miscarriages, and it does help with neurological deficiencies of the spine.”
In addition, prenatal multivitamins have vitamin C, B6, B12, zinc and other essential nutrients for the body. The vitamins plus a balanced diet should provide the mother with all she needs during her pregnancy.
“I would recommend every woman who wants to get pregnant take some form of prenatal vitamins,” said Brebnor.
3. Maintain healthy weight and exercise
When it comes to thebody, keeping active is essential as we age. Even 20 minutes of activity a day, three to five times per week, provides benefits. Thirty minutes every day is even better. Research indicates that staying physically active can help prevent or delay certain diseases, including some cancers, heart disease and diabetes, and also relieve depression and improve mood.
“In general, if you are too underweight or too obese, this can cause risks in your pregnancy,” said Brebnor. “Any exercise can help whether that is walking or even a light jog. Of course, as you get through your pregnancy, you may want to avoid very strenuous workouts; however, we recommend exercising throughout the entire pregnancy.”
4. Stop smoking
Tobacco is the single greatest preventable cause of illness and premature death in the U.S. Tobacco use is now called “tobacco dependence disease.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that smokers who try to quit are more successful when they have the support of their physician.
“Smoking definitely increases your risk of a miscarriage,” she added. “We even tell mothers that they should do everything they can to avoid second-hand smoke.”
5. Avoid caffeine
Americans like to drink a lot of caffeinated beverages whether that is soda or caffeine. While it tastes great, doctors recommend moderation for pregnant women.
“You don’t have to completely give up your morning coffee. It is okay to have a 12-ounce cup of coffee each day,” said Brebnor. “The problem is that people usually have more than that several times a day. You want to avoid those giant mugs of coffee because a very high caffeine intake can lead to problems during pregnancy.”