Your Plan Of Action – The Natural Approach
- We can organise tests to try and find the root cause
- Have an ultrasound of the abdomen and uterus (womb) if you have not already, we can give you a referral if needed for our Harley Street clinic to get this done
- Talk to us about where to go next. If you have a diagnosis, see links on this page to other topics
- Look after yourself, do something you enjoy or helps you to relax during this stressful and upsetting time
Miscarriage is more common than most people think with an estimated 1 in 4 pregnancies ending before week 12. Earlier losses before week 6 are probably more common and not reported as often. After week 12 your rate of miscarriage decreases to 1% although it is higher if you are over the age of 40.
If you have suffered a miscarriage, you are not alone. However, trying to understand the underlying cause and hoping that it won’t happen again is very worrying and difficult. Many people will have one single miscarriage and go on to have healthy pregnancies after. If you have had two, three or more miscarriages (recurrent miscarriage), the underlying cause needs to be addressed to increase your chances of staying pregnant.
This is also important if you are miscarrying after IVF or ICSI treatment as well as through natural conception.
Here we outline some possible causes with links to further information on our other pages.
Can Nutrition Help With Recurrent Miscarriage?
The most common cause of recurrent miscarriage is a result of a genetically abnormal embryo. In some instances, this could be passed down through your family, but more commonly it is a result of older eggs in women over the age of 35. By the time a woman is 43, there is a 50% chance of miscarriage. Supporting egg quality through dietary and lifestyle changes is the only way to try to offset the risks associated with age. A good fertility diet is described in our section on female fertility. Optimising your nutrient levels and using personalised supplementation tailored to your needs and deficiencies can be helpful to make sure you are reducing your risk for miscarriage.
Blood Clotting Disorders
Blood clotting disorders are also associated with miscarriage and can be diagnosed with specialist tests.
Fibroids And Structural Issues
An ultrasound of the uterine environment is a good first step if you have not had one already. Structural abnormalities may increase the risk for recurrent miscarriage including fibroids, depending on their position and size. It may be recommended that you undergo a procedure to remove the fibroid. Nutritional support may also be helpful in reducing the re-growth of fibroids.
Your hormones are in flux during the early stages in pregnancy and are required to support the environment for implantation, development of the placenta and the growth and development of the foetus. Hormonal imbalances such as a thyroid condition, low progesterone or PCOS can increase the risk for recurrent miscarriage.
Your immune balance is critical for your body to accept an implanting embryo and growing foetus that is not entirely ‘self’. This is a relatively new area of science and the research is still ongoing into how exactly we need to balance our immune system in order to accommodate a pregnancy. It is fascinating how the body adapts but sometimes it needs our help.
Stress is not a direct cause of miscarriage but it can contribute to hormonal imbalances. Reducing sources of stress may be useful and the uncertainty and loss as a result of miscarriage can of course be significant also. Your diet can support you here along with specific nutrients such as B vitamins and magnesium. Include wholegrains instead of refined carbohydrates and sugar and snack on nuts and seeds. Don’t go too long between meals and try to ensure you are sleeping well. Moderate or mild exercise such as yoga can reduce stress. Consider other stress-reducing therapies such as acupuncture and practices such as meditation and mindfulness.
And something that may not be usually mentioned concerning miscarriage is that miscarriage can be caused by a problem with sperm health. Although it is the woman who miscarries it is important that your partner eats well, stops smoking if needed and also reduces alcohol intake because a miscarriage can also occur if the sperm is not as healthy as it could be. Because it is important to rule out any underlying causes of miscarriage, we would recommend that your partner has a sperm DNA fragmentation test if a miscarriage is happening from natural conception or through IVF/ICSI. We can organise this test.
As well as eating a healthy diet, supplementation can be helpful to reduce the risk of a miscarriage. It is important to have a good multivitamin and mineral supplement that is designed for fertility. This multi would contain a number of key nutrients that are important for women including folic acid, zinc, selenium, vitamin C and vitamin E.
There are also two key nutrients that are important to include for prevention of miscarriage.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
The omega 3 fatty acids have far reaching effects for miscarriage. Sometimes immune problems may be affecting a woman’s ability to get and stay pregnant. The theory is that in order for her body to stay pregnant, her immune system has to quieten down because half the baby’s DNA is not hers. Normally if the body detects something foreign it aims to reject it and expel it from the body. For some women, their immune systems do not quieten down and so they can’t get or stay pregnant.
One of the immune antibodies measured is called antiphospholipid antibodies (APAs). These blood-clotting antibodies can prevent implantation and cause recurrent miscarriage by attacking the cells that build the placenta. The medical treatment for this is blood thinners like aspirin and heparin. But research has shown that fish oil given to 22 women with APAs who already had 3 or more miscarriages went on to have 23 pregnancies (one woman has twins) without a miscarriage.
Also, omega 3 fatty acids can help with general blood flow to the baby if in a previous pregnancy you found out from a scan that your baby had stopped developing but genetically the baby was fine.
Vitamin D helps to balance the immune system which is important in staying pregnant. Vitamin D, like the omega 3 fatty acids, decreases the Th1 autoimmune response but it also helps to promote the Th2 cells which your body needs to maintain a pregnancy.
Tests For Recurrent Miscarriages
A Hormonal Test MGL5 (blood) can identify hormonal imbalances which might be affecting your fertility. We can look at hormones in the second half of your cycle or track the interplay between all the hormones throughout the cycle. This test will also look at how you are metabolising (breaking down) your hormones so they are not building up and also look at whether stress is a big feature for you in hormonal health.
Do you want to know more about exactly what vitamins and minerals you need? Our Nutritional Profile MGL4 (blood) can help you to find out what you are deficient in so that you can restore yourself to balance.
Thyroid Tests can help to identify whether your thyroid is functioning optimally and we carry out a number of tests to support thyroid health. Any other tests can also be organised e.g. ultrasound.
Where to Start?
Make sure you are eating well to support your general health. If you would like personalised advice on what to do next then request a consultation with one of our qualified nutritionists.