Baby Loss Awareness Week is a time to reflect upon the women who have experienced pregnancy loss and post partum baby loss and how they have learned to heal, maintain hope and manage their lives and health moving forward.
Today week we’re looking at the myths surrounding miscarriage.
A survey released in May 2015 showed that up to 64% of participants believed that lifting heavy objects could cause a miscarriage. This is untrue, heavy lifting does not cause miscarriage. If you are at risk of potential pregnancy loss due to other contributory factors such as uterine polyps you should discuss these concerns with your doctor to determine the impact other activities may have on your pregnancy however lifting heavy objects is NOT a contributory factor for pregnancy loss in women.
76% of respondents in the same survey also believed that stress could cause miscarriage with 74% stating they thought chronic stress could lead to pregnancy loss. According to Dr. Zev Williams from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York this is untrue. A study undertaken in Israel looked at differences in miscarriage rates among women living in a town under continual threat of rocket attack in comparison to women in a town close by that was not under continual attack. The study found that there was approximately 2% difference. According to Dr Williams this is “barely a perceptual difference”. The constant fear of death in high stress environments such as war zones may be as extreme an exposure to stress can be. Commonly defined stresses such as work life balance are not considered defining factors in causing a miscarriage. This doesn’t mean that stress isn’t a factor in struggling to conceive though.
It is commonly believed that having sex, particularly vigorous or passionate sex, during pregnancy can cause miscarriage. As the uterus is enlarged during pregnancy orgasms can often feel more intense this will not harm the baby. Some women may experience light spotting following sex but this is largely becasue the cervix is soft and filled with blood sometimes brisk motion may cause light spotting but this will not cause a loss of pregnancy. You are ok to continue enjoying an active sex life throughout your pregnancy unless your doctor has instructed otherwise.
Although it is important to ensure that emotionally and physically you feel ready to try again following the loss of a pregnancy research suggests that women do not need to wait for a period of time before trying to conceive again. A 2010 study in the British Medical Journal, of more than 30,000 Scottish women who had suffered a miscarriage and then subsequently become pregnant found that those women who became pregnant within six months of a miscarriage were less likely to suffer another miscarriage than those who waited a longer period of time. The research showed that women who got pregnant sooner had a lower chance of ectopic pregnancy which is caused when a fertilised egg implants in the fallopian tube or abdominal cavity instead of the uterine lining. It is important to note that the study may not generalise for countries where the average age of pregnancy is younger as it involved Scottish women who, like many women in developed countries has a later average age of conception.
Although having an abortion should not determine your ability to carry a pregnancy full term research from the University of California suggests that “though there is very limited information, there is some suggestion that having had 3 or more terminations may compromise the integrity of the cervix” according to Dr. Srinivas. Research in Denmark has also shown that there is an increased risk of miscarriage if there is an interval of less than 3 months between an induced abortion and a new pregnancy.
There is no evidence to suggest that moderate exercise during pregnancy will lead to miscarriage. Most forms of physical activity are fine but you should try to avoid any activities which pose an increased risk of falling such as horseback riding, skiing, basketball or rugby. In fact a study by the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health in New York found that women who exercised throughout pregnancy lowered their overall risk of miscarriage by 40% as it helps to prevent excess weight gain.
If you’ve experienced a miscarriage or suffered baby loss and would like to talk to someone you can find more information or support services at Child Bereavement UK