Early pregnancy is hard. It’s not just the morning sickness, the exhaustion and the lack of wine in your life.
It’s also hard because it’s a little scary.
Many women find themselves worrying about their risk of miscarriage throughout their first trimester. We probably all know someone who has experienced a pregnancy loss. Celebrities and people in the media are also discussing miscarriage more often—a good thing, because it helps remind us that pregnancy loss isn’t something to be ashamed of or keep secret.
But when we hear these stories we can’t help but wonder, Will it happen to me?
So let’s talk about miscarriages a bit, and then go over some ways to release a bit of the stress you may be feeling about them.
First things first: Miscarriage is almost always caused by a chromosomal problem in the developing embryo.
Translation: The words “my fault” do not apply. We’ll go over a few things you can do to make sure you’re as healthy as possible, but most often it’s simply beyond our control.
The risk of miscarriage decreases as your pregnancy progresses.
When you first get pregnant, the risk is about 10 to 25%. Eighty percent of miscarriages occur in the first trimester, but most of them happen very early.
After a heartbeat is detected on an ultrasound, the miscarriage rate drops to about 5 to 10%.
And the risk continues to drop each week. In fact, one study found that after eight weeks, your risk drops to 1.5%—which means you have a 98.5% chance of not having a miscarriage. Certainly this number varies among women, but overall we like those odds.
Here are a few things you can do to make sure you‘re as healthy as possible:
1. Get prenatal care and address any underlying medical conditions you may have.
2. Take a prenatal vitamin.
3. Stop smoking, drinking alcohol and using recreational drugs, and cut down caffeine to one cup of coffee a day.
4. Eat well and avoid exposure to toxins.
And now let’s talk about that last one: Breathe. Because honestly, it actually drives me a little crazy. So many women who experience pregnancy loss believe that it was caused by stress they were under at the time. Commence mom guilt!
Real talk: Who doesn’t have at least a little stress in their lives? While the research is a bit undecided, our best medical understanding is that while very high, prolonged stress levels can impact your pregnancy, day-to-day stress (an argument with a friend, missing the bus, a big work project) does not cause pregnancy loss.
So you can stop stressing out about stressing out.
That being said, I want you to enjoy your pregnancy! So let’s talk about a few ways to do that.
1. Develop a mindfulness practice where you focus on all that is good right now.
When you catch yourself spiraling about all the potentially bad things that could happen, remind yourself it’s unhelpful and shift your mindset to focus on something productive. (This ability will serve you well as a parent, by the way.)
2. Take care of yourself.
Heck, go ahead and spoil yourself. You’re making a human. You deserve some extra self-love.
3. After clearing it with your provider, get a little exercise.
It will make you feel better. Promise.
4. Seek out the positive stuff + eliminate whatever brings you down.
Surround yourself with people and things that make you feel good (yet another skill that will continue to be helpful after the baby arrives).
5. If the stress starts to impact your daily life + your ability to enjoy things, get some help.
There is absolutely no shame in asking a therapist or doctor to help you develop some ways to cope with all the changes in your life right now.
6. Empower yourself with knowledge + trust your body’s wisdom.
Read books and take classes that lift you up and prepare you for this amazing journey that you’re on.
Hint: We like this one. ⤵️
Ultimately, take this whole thing one day at a time. You are doing beautifully. As we like to say here at Motherly, you’ve got this.