Can lifestyle choices cause miscarriage?

The vast majority of miscarriages are not caused by anything you have or have not done. However, there are some factors that can increase the risk of miscarriage.

Most miscarriages are not caused by lifestyle choices and there is nothing you could have done that will make a difference. Many women enter into a cycle of self-blame, raking over their actions in the weeks before the pregnancy trying to work out if they caused the loss. However, a glass of wine before you knew you were pregnant will not have caused your miscarriage. 

These are some of the risk factors for miscarriage below. These are not causes but they are things that increase your risk. If you are able to make changes to reduce the risks it could help.

Your age

Age is not a lifestyle choice and there is nothing you can do about it, but unfortunately is one of the most common risk factors for miscarriage. A woman of 30 has a 20% chance of miscarriage, but a a woman of 42 has a 50 per cent chance of losing the baby. You are born with all the eggs you will ever have and as you age, the quality of your eggs diminishes. Read more about statistics about age and miscarriage here.

Smoking, recreational drugs and alcohol

Smoking, using recreational drugs or drinking alcohol are harmful to developing babies. It is best to avoid them to increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy.

Seek advice from a doctor or pharmacist before taking any medications, including over the counter medications.

Food and drink

Healthy weight

Not being a healthy weight can affect your chances of a healthy pregnancy. Women who are very underweight or  very overweight have an increased risk of miscarriage.

Existing health conditions

Health conditions are not 'lifestyle choices' but we thought it would be helpful to mention them here. Some conditions can raise the risk of miscarriage, such as diabetes if it is not carefully controlled during pregnancy or before pregnancy. If you are at the stage of planning a pregnancy consult with health professionals before you conceive if possible.

You might want to consider

There is evidence that your lifestyle can affect your chance of a healthy pregnancy and baby. These steps are advised by all health professionals.

All of these things can increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy.

Finding out the reasons for miscarriage

Our National Centre for Miscarriage Research is dedicated to finding the reasons for miscarriages that are not caused by lifestyle, or chromosomal abnormalities. This animation describes how we are doing it.

Sources

  1. N Maconochie, P Doyle, S Prior, R Simmons. Risk factors for first trimester miscarriage: results from a UK-population-based case-control study. BJOG, 2007; 114(2): 170-186
  2. 6 Boots C, Stephenson MD. Does obesity increase the risk of miscarriage in spontaneous conception: a systematic review. Semin Reprod Med. 2011; 29(6): 507-13.
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    Last reviewed on August 1st, 2016. Next review date August 1st, 2019.

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    Comments

    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.
    • By Laura P (not verified) on 11 Sep 2019 - 20:27

      I'm 8 weeks late on my period took a pregnancy test and it was positive. I have my OB appointment on 9/19/19. Just worried because 3 years ago a had a miscarriage. I have no spotting or discharge. My breast however are swollen and tender. I'm hoping all goes well. Hoping to see a heartbeat at my upcoming doctors appointment.

    • By Nadia Haque (not verified) on 19 Aug 2019 - 15:48

      I m in 1st trimester...but I don't have any symptoms of pregnancy.. .Is it normal?? And I have very light bleeding last few days...is it ok In 1st trimester?

    • By Rachel Copeland (not verified) on 19 Aug 2019 - 01:55

      I want advice on miscarriage

    • By Allezey G (not verified) on 13 Aug 2019 - 22:35

      I’m 13weeks 4 days . I was about 104 pounds a couple weeks ago now 101 . I haven’t been taking any vitamins & I been getting cramps & back aches /barley scheduled an appointment for this Friday. Anything I should be worried about?

    • By Mpho Mildred (not verified) on 2 Aug 2019 - 10:31

      I'm 8weeks pregnant and sporting i went to a doctor and he told me the baby is still fine... I'm worried about this sporting

    • By Lesley (not verified) on 21 Jan 2019 - 13:50

      I recently had a miscarriage at 19wks +5, still waiting for result to come back to hopefully shed some light on what the cause could be.

      I've stopped bleeding and waiting for my normal period to come. However my partner and I would like to start trying again after my first period has come. Can I start taking folic acid now or should I wait for my 6 week checkup at the GP?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 28 Jan 2019 - 15:53

      So sorry to hear about your late miscarriage and we hope that you gain some help and answers from reading the storries on our site. There is no harm in starting with folic acid now. Folic acid is also available in many foods including green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, beans and pulses, eggs and some fortified bread and cereals. Best wishes to you x

    • By Ana Maria (not verified) on 17 Oct 2017 - 07:40

      I was 23 days and spot bleed for 2 days . When I went to the doctor he did a sonogram and said there was nothing in my womb and he recommended I abort. I did abort and now regret it. I should have waited. 23 days is very earlier. Don't go by doctors. You should always go but your gut feelings. I was a victim of a doctors mistake.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 Oct 2017 - 10:12

      Dear Ana Maria,

      Thank you for posting. I am sorry to hear that you felt pressured to make a decision and didn't wait longer to consider your options.

      We are always here for questions or if you need support.

      Warmest wishes
      Anna- Tommy's Midwife


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