10 Things You Can Do Right Now to Reduce Your Risk of Pregnancy Loss

While it's not always discussed, miscarriage is quite common. In fact, approximately 15% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. However, pregnancy loss actually happens even more often as many miscarriages occur in the first days or weeks of pregnancy well before people even know they've conceived.

Most often, miscarriages happen due to chromosomal abnormalities or other unknown causes that make the pregnancy unable to continue. Research shows that 50% or more of miscarriages are caused by abnormal genetics. Around 30% have no known causes.

Advancing age, obesity, being underweight, substance use, and chronic medical issues, such as diabetes, some thyroid disorders, and hypertension all increase the risk of miscarriage. While many of these risk factors are out of your control, there are other ways to reduce your chances of having a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. Learn more about lifestyle modifications and other steps you can take to increase your chance of a healthy pregnancy.

Precautions to Take During Early Pregnancy to Avoid Miscarriage

While many miscarriages can't be prevented, some can. Taking the following steps will reduce your risk of an early pregnancy miscarriage:

  • Wash your hands
  • Quit smoking
  • Take precautions against food-borne illness
  • Get a flu shot
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a nutritious diet
  • Get regular prenatal care
  • Treat chronic health problems
  • Have safe sex
  • Don't drink alcohol

Wash Your Hands

Pregnant person washing their hands

Bambu Productions / Taxi / Getty Images

There are a number of infections that can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. The easiest way to avoid catching any of these viral or bacterial infections is to practice good hand hygiene and socially distance from sick people or crowded indoor spaces.

Good Hand Hygiene

Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds (as long as it takes to sing your ABCs twice) using soap and warm water. Always wash:

  • Before and after eating
  • After using the restroom
  • When you’ve been around anyone who is sick
  • After touching things that other people have handled, like money, doorknobs, pens, or shopping carts

Quit Smoking

Smoking is a major health risk. It increases your risk of many kinds of cancer, lung disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. People who smoke (or are exposed to second-hand smoke) are more likely to experience infertility and/or have a miscarriage, stillborn baby, preterm delivery, or low birth weight infant.

Infants born to people who smoke have a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Quitting tobacco may not only save the life of your baby; it may make sure you’re around for many years of parenthood, too.


Be Careful in the Kitchen

Pregnant person cooking

People Images / Getty Images 

Food-borne illnesses like listeria are associated with an increased risk of miscarriage. Pregnant people are routinely advised to avoid the foods that are the most common sources of dangerous bacteria, like undercooked meats and unpasteurized cheeses. However, safe food handling is even more important than usual to prevent infections.

Food Safety

  • Cook meat, fish, and eggs to the recommended temperature.
  • Refrigerate leftovers promptly.
  • Thoroughly wash fresh produce.
  • Use or freeze meat and fish within one to three days of purchase.
  • Wash your hands before and after handling raw foods.

Get a Flu Shot

A person getting a flu shot


Although some people fear the flu shot can cause miscarriage, study after study shows no increased risk of miscarriage after getting the flu vaccine. An inactivated influenza vaccine is recommended regardless of the stage of pregnancy.

People who get the flu while pregnant are at high risk—the H1N1 strain, in particular, is more likely to be fatal to pregnant people than the general population. A high fever during pregnancy is also associated with neural tube defects in the fetus.

People with a COVID-19 infection during pregnancy may get sicker than others and are at higher risk to give birth prematurely. Take precautions to avoid contracting the virus, such as wearing masks in indoor spaces and getting vaccinated to reduce your risk of severe illness.


Aim for a Healthy Weight

Like smoking, obesity has been linked to many health problems—from increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer, to pregnancy complications including premature birth, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and all types of pregnancy loss. Being underweight can also increase the risk of miscarriage and other pregnancy complications.

Experts don’t fully understand all the reasons why obesity is linked with pregnancy loss. But studies all over the world are finding the same results. Women who are obese have a higher risk of losing their babies.

Any weight loss program should be discussed with a doctor, but especially in pregnancy (or when trying to conceive) having guidance from experts on how much weight to gain or lose can be crucial to your health and success at achieving a healthier weight and a healthier pregnancy.


Eat Right


Francois Carstens

Eating a healthy diet isn't just a concern for people trying to lose weight. Research has found that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can lower your risk of pregnancy complications.

A 2011 study from Stanford University found that women were 50% less likely to have a baby with anencephaly while eating such a diet. A healthy diet is also associated with weight control and optimal blood sugar control for people with diabetes.


Start Prenatal Care

A pregnant person in a hospital gown on an exam table

Keith Brofsky / Getty Images

If you haven’t already started prenatal care, you should do so as soon as possible. A physical exam from a doctor or midwife may uncover health problems or pregnancy complications you aren’t aware of which could lead to a pregnancy loss if they go untreated—such as high blood pressure, gestational or type 2 diabetes, cervical or uterine abnormalities, or sexually transmitted infections.


Take Your Medications

Take medications

AE Pictures Inc./Getty Images

Chronic health problems like lupus, diabetes, and high blood pressure are all associated with increased chances of pregnancy loss. If you have a diagnosed chronic illness, you'll have the best odds for a healthy pregnancy if you keep your condition under optimum control both prior to conception and throughout pregnancy.

If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, consult your doctor about how to best control your condition, and be sure to follow all your doctor's recommendations, including prescription or over-the-counter medications.

If you are considering pregnancy, start taking prenatal vitamins before you conceive. The benefits of folic acid are especially crucial in the early stages of pregnancy, even before you may know you are pregnant. Adequate folic acid intake is essential to prevent neural tube defects in your baby, which can be fatal depending on severity.


Have Safe Sex

Person putting a red condom in their handbag

Peter Dazeley / Getty Images 

It may seem crazy to recommend safe sex to people who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, but the fact is that sexually transmitted infections, like chlamydia or syphilis, can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death, infertility, ectopic pregnancy, low birth weight, and other complications.

Anyone who is sexually active is at risk for STIs. You’ll get screened when you start prenatal care, but you may want to get screened even before you start trying to conceive if you or your partner have more than one sexual partner. If you have multiple partners, you should use a condom, even while pregnant, and you should always use condoms with a new sexual partner until you have both been screened for STIs.


Don't Drink

In the United States, people are advised to avoid consuming alcohol during pregnancy due to the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome, but this behavior also creates an increased risk for miscarriage or stillbirth, especially with regular or excessive alcohol use.

Other countries have different recommendations for how much alcohol use is safe in pregnancy, but there is no known lowest safe amount, so it's most prudent to abstain altogether during pregnancy. If you are a regular drinker or don’t think you can quit drinking, discuss this with a healthcare provider and aim to drink as little as possible.

17 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Elizabeth Czukas, RN, MSN
Elizabeth Czukas is a writer who who has worked as an RN in high-risk obstetrics, antepartum care, and with women undergoing pregnancy loss.