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Diet to reduce miscarriage risk

Experiencing miscarriage is one of the hardest things that you’ll ever have to go through and my heart goes out to you if you have gone through this. There are many causes of miscarriage with alot of these being completely outside of our control. I know that you want to do everything that you can to reduce your risk of miscarriage and increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy so I wanted to share with you a few pieces of information that the research has highlighted as impactful in ensuring your embryos are as healthy as possible, and preventing abnormalities in baby's chromosomes.

Chromosome formation is something that diet can impact on which we will look at in this article, along with reducing damaging toxins and ensuring adequate intake of nutrients associated with healthy embryo development. (1)

Niacin

Addressing nutrient deficiencies prior to pregnancy is vital for yours and babys health and we are often here about folate, iodine, and iron when it comes to pregnancy. (2) However, research has found that niacin/ B3 intake can also have a significant impact. Adequate intakes of niacin can help to prevent birth defects in baby and therefore support your pregnancy to progress and prevent miscarriage. Inadequate niacin intake is assessed through dietary analysis with a dietitian which we recommend for women who have experienced miscarriage, are vegan/ vegetarian, or are suffering from morning sickness.

Folate

Folate is a nutrient that many women aren't consuming enough of. Unfortunately we often take a prenatal with the belief that the folic acid in this is enough to provide us with what we need. However, many women need more folate than what's usually prescribed such as smokers, those who have had previous miscarriages, and those who are overweight (5). Folate is important in preventing growth abnormalities that are commonly associated with miscarriage.

Choline

Choline is the new folate! We are seeing ever evolving research on the importance of this nutrient in preventing neural tube defects and supporting baby's development (4). If you don't eat eggs it can be hard to get enough of this nutrient and it isn't often found in prenatal supplements. I recommend talking to a dietitian and asking for a nutrient intake analysis to ensure that you are getting enough choline to support baby's growth and to help your pregnancy progress.

Coffee

Caffeine intake >300mg/day is linked with higher rates of miscarriage (6). To put this into perspective, 1 bought cafe style coffee= 200-250mg caffeine. There is also a study which found that pre-pregnancy coffee consumption of 4 or more each day (regular or decaf) was associated with a significantly greater risk of spontaneous abortion than in those who did not drink coffee. Tea was not associated with this increased risk so I would recommend switching to decaf tea if you drink it, and finding a coffee alternative that you enjoy (e.g. peppermint tea, chamomile, fruit tea etc), or sticking to a lower intake of only 1-2 cups of coffee each day.


Non-pregnancy-friendly foods & supplements


As soon as you're in the "two week wait", it's important that you eat and drink like you are pregnant. Avoid alcohol, high listeria risk foods, and high intakes of mercury (e.g. from large fish) as these are all linked with greater risk of miscarriage. High risk foods include soft serve ice cream, deli meats, and sushi for example (7).


Omega-3


Adequate omega-3 intake can hugely improve the chances of your baby's chromosomes developing safely and help to prevent miscarriage. (3) Eating oily fish like salmon, mackerel, or tuna 2-3 times a week is a great start, as well as opting for extra virgin olive oil, and eating a variety of nuts and seeds (walnuts, chia, and pumpkin seeds especially). A supplement can be helpful for some, just make sure that you are choosing one that provides atleast 200mg of DHA/day.


Vegetables


Antioxidants are crucial for a safe and healthy pregnancy, and fruit and vegetables are the best way to get these into the diet (8). One study found that women who ate atleast 14 serves of vegetables each week had a 40% reduced risk of miscarriage compared to those who ate only 7 serves each week (9). One serve is about a cup of salad or 1/2 cup cooked vegetables. If you can meet the recommendation of 5 servings every day then you are doing extremely well and definitely optimising your antioxidant intake for prevention of miscarriage.


Fruit


One study found that only two pieces of fruit every day reduced the risk of miscarriage by over 70%! (10) Choose fresh fruit and make sure to wash it in cold running water to remove any pesticides. This is absolutely one of the best and possibly the easiest ways to optimise our diet for prevention of miscarriage.


It's nice to know that during the hardest time in our lives, there is something that we can do to take back some control. Have a go at these steps and if you need some support please reach out! I have also put together a pre-natal and fertility boosting guide which I truly wish I had access to when I was trying to get pregnant. Have a look and if you have any questions please let me know anytime by emailing alex@alexcameron.co.nz







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