Tips On Preventing Premature Labor, Including Risk Factors For Delivering A Premature Baby And How You Can Increase Your Changes Of Delivering A Full Term Baby.
Experts indicate babies need enough time in the womb to gain the appropriate amount of weight, as well as to avoid complications with vision and hearing. Organs including the brain and lungs also run the risk of being underdeveloped in premature babies.
Complications from preterm births can include everything from brain, breathing and digestive problems, to concerns later in life with learning and development. In fact, preterm birth is the cause of many deaths and illnesses in the U.S.
Who is at risk?
Organizations such as the March of Dimes continue to research the reason why preterm births occur, and while much is still uncertain, researchers have identified risks women should be aware of. Some of these include a history of preterm births, mothers expecting multiples and specific problems with the uterus and cervix.
“The most important predictor of a preterm delivery is a history of a previous pregnancy,” said Dr. Ellen Kruger, MD with the Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, LA. “It’s important to see your OB early because they may recommend a regimen of weekly progesterone beginning about 6 weeks.”
She adds women deliver early for other reasons including a weak cervix and infections. “Avoid dehydration, and if a bladder or other infection is diagnosed take the complete course of medication,” said Kruger.
Kruger adds that women in their 2nd and 3rd trimesters should report unusual spotting or discharge, and adds that in a normal pregnancy having sex or doing normal activity shouldn’t increase your chances of preterm labor.
The March of Dimes indicates that lifestyle choices may also influence preterm labor and include things such as: smoking, late prenatal care, alcohol and drugs, stress, violence, working long hours while on your feet, and being exposed to the medicine DES.
Being under or over weight may also play a role in delivering early as well as high blood pressure, diabetes, infections, bleeding and clotting, and getting pregnant within 6-9 months of having your first child, among others.
Social issues including poverty and a lack of support also contribute to preterm births across the globe.
Understand the symptoms of preterm birth which can include: contractions which occur 10 minutes or more, back pain, cramping, and a change in your vaginal discharge.
Experts agree it’s important not to overlook these symptoms, but rather call your OB if you think something may be wrong. Depending on your situation your doctor may have you come in or tell you to rest. Your physician may give you medication to help stop the labor as well as protect your baby’s health.
“If you’ve been very active or stressed and find you’re contracting more frequently than a couple of times in one hour stop what you’re doing, rehydrate and rest to make sure the contractions go away,” added Kruger.
- March of Dimes – This nonprofit organization has chapters across the country that offer support and education on preterm birth. Find them at www.marchofdimes.com
- National Preemie Families Support Network - Seek out support groups where you can share your experiences and learns from other families with preemies. Find them at www.preemiestoday.org
- Talk to other moms for support on message boards, such as the Pregnancy and Baby message boards
For more on premature births: