Sometimes after your miscarriage you will remember straining to lift something, worry over the three martinis you drank before you took the pregnancy test, or wonder if you should have still been working out. None of this matters. Miscarriage happens, whether we do our best to prevent it or not. Here is a list of commonly blamed factors that are NOT causes of miscarriage.
These things do NOT cause miscarriage:
Stress. All mothers worry about their babies. Many experience traumatic life events during pregnancy, such as family deaths, even deaths of children or the baby’s father. You will get through it, and your baby will too. As a strong case in point, over 50 women were pregnant when their husbands died on September 11 in a terrorist attack on the United States. Their babies are arriving, kicking and squawling, despite the pregnancy occurring during the absolute worst days of their mothers’ lives.
Sex, even the passionate kind. Orgasm may scare you when your uterus enlarges because you can feel the contractions, but it doesn’t do anything to the baby other than maybe rock him to sleep (or get him to kick you to stop and let him sleep already.) Sometimes you will have spotting after sex, but this is just because the cervix is very soft and filled with blood. A little banging sometimes makes it bleed a little, but this is not a problem. You only need to curtail your loving if your doctor has told you to do so.
Lifting your toddler or older children. Your body will complain to the point of making you drop them well before you can do anything that is harmful. Remember to pick them up by squatting and lifting with your legs, not bending over and lifting with your back. This is still not a miscarriage factor, but will save you many aches and pains.
Working out. This is actually something that helps you and the baby. There are some rules, however. Do not get your heart rate above 140 (still not a miscarriage factor, but does start to reduce the amount of oxygen to the baby) or work until you feel faint or exhausted.
Getting kicked or hit in the stomach. Remember the baby is well protected, and only you will hurt. This is often done during the night by a sleepless child you have pulled into bed with you, but if it is by a partner or other adult, get help. You don’t need to bring a child into a world where abuse is present. Please visit http://www.ncadv.org/ for help and information on domestic violence.
Poor eating habits. The baby will rob you of the nutrients it needs and only you will suffer. However, you can cause a low birth-weight baby with developmental problems if you refuse to have a healthy diet through the entire pregnancy. You should still eat well, but don’t blame a miscarriage on your eating habits.
Drinking before you knew you were pregnant. The majority of women do this and it has no bearing on miscarriage. I personally tossed quite a few tequila shots the night I had a negative pregnancy test on the ninth month of trying. Two days later another test was positive. I didn’t blink an eye. The baby doesn’t get a drop of blood before implantation, and receives so little for the first few weeks that you really just don’t need to worry about it. If you continue drinking once you know you are pregnant, however, you can cause a serous problem with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Once the test is positive, pick up baby bottles, not liquor ones.
Scaring the baby. Just because a near accident, or loud terrible noise, earthquake, or other event scared you, does not mean the baby even noticed. Even if the baby does jump upon hearing something loud, this is just a startle reflex and actually a healthy sign that he or she is developing normally. Babies do not have “heart attacks” from fright or get scared “to death.” This is a persistent myth in several cultures and simply does not have any basis in fact.
The baby “knowing” it was unwanted. Just because a pregnancy surprised you, and even if you debated having an abortion, you did not cause your baby to die. This is a grief and guilt emotion you are feeling, but it is not true. The fact is, at least 10% of all babies die, whether they were desperately wanted or not.
These things may cause complications, but not typically a miscarriage:
Falling. We all become klutzes as our belly expands, joints loosen, and our center of balance changes. Most falls do not cause any harm to the baby. If, however, you experience bleeding or serious soreness afterward, or if you landed square on your belly in the second trimester or later, see a doctor to check the placenta for tears. Otherwise just be embarrassed.
Car accidents. While some people will blame their miscarriage on an accident, usually it isn’t so. The baby is very well protected in its amniotic fluid, so unless the stomach and uterus is punctured, or the woman undergoes a period of cardiac arrest or without breathing, the baby should survive. Certainly get checked after a car accident, especially if you begin bleeding, as you may have pulled a bit of the placenta from the wall of the uterus, but don’t worry too much about miscarriage. It is rare in this case.
Lifting something heavy. This caution is really for women who can cause a placental tear in the second or third trimester. This does not necessarily mean a miscarriage, and usually if you feel terrible pains later, it just means that you strained one of the round ligaments holding your uterus in place. A little rest will be all that is needed. If you have bleeding, however, it is time to get a sonogram just to be sure you didn’t pull a bit of the placenta away, although this will almost always heal itself without incident.
Yes, I know. You started bleeding right after sex, or right after a workout. Or your baby died the day after the car accident, or the checkup at the hospital after you fell down showed no heartbeat. These things MUST have caused the miscarriage, because babies don’t just die, right?
Babies do just die. Over half of all miscarriages are caused by chromosomal factors that are completely out of our hands. Not preventable. Nothing we can do. The majority of the others are also unrelated to anything we personally did, but some infection that got us, a poorly formed placenta or umbilical cord, a hormone problem, or health condition we didn’t know about. Don’t let anyone, not even your partner or your mother (or yes, the mother-in-law) tell you this was your fault. It absolutely, positively was not.