It’s a sad fact that thousands of babies are born too early in our country each year. Some may be just a few weeks early, and are able to survive with proper care in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). But even with proper care, babies born early may have developmental delays and health problems.
What causes premature labor, and how can you avoid it? Medical experts are working hard to find answers to these questions. In many cases, the mother did everything right, but still experienced a preterm birth. If this has happened to you, make sure you are getting emotional support and help if needed. Feelings of sadness, confusion, and guilt are common — even when it’s something that was out of your control.
There are a few things you can do to help reduce your risk of preterm birth. It also helps to be aware of factors that may make you more likely to have a premature baby.
Risk factors out of your control
Some of the risk factors for premature labor and birth are things you can’t control. They include:
- Being pregnant with multiples
- Having a complication with the uterus, cervix, or placenta
- Having certain health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, blood clotting problems, or certain infections
- Having a premature baby in the past, or premature births in your immediate family
What you can do to help
There are things you can do to reduce your risk of having a premature baby. Although they won’t guarantee you a full-term pregnancy, they are things you should do for you and your baby’s health.
- Get regular prenatal care. See your obstetrician as recommended and get necessary tests and screenings. This is the best thing you can do for you and your baby.
- Don’t smoke, drink alcohol, or take illegal drugs at any time.
- Gain a healthy amount of weight throughout pregnancy.
- Wait at least 18 months between giving birth and getting pregnant again if possible.
- Go to the hospital if you experience signs of labor.
Treatments for preterm birth
Sometimes physicians are able to stop preterm birth so your baby isn’t born early. They may give you certain medications, monitor you, and/or prescribe bedrest. If you think you’re in preterm labor, call your obstetrician right away so he or she can advise you of what to do.
Together, you and your medical team can give your baby the best possible chance to have a healthy, full-term birth.
CarePoint Health Family Birth Centers
CarePoint Health is dedicated to providing you with the individual care and attention you need so you can relax and focus on what is most important — the birth of your new baby. To learn more about caring for yourself and your baby during pregnancy, view our list of upcoming classes.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.