November is National Prematurity Awareness Month — let’s celebrate taking action. We’ve gathered some commonly known ways in which expectant mothers can avoid a premature birth event. As a women’s healthcare provider, we are proud to be a resource of health, wellness, and support.
Premature or preterm birth is often an unplanned event in a woman’s pregnancy. In 2018, it was recorded that about 1 in 10 babies are born preterm, or before completing the standard 37 to 40 weeks of pregnancy. Depending on the causes of delivery and how early a baby is born, it can also be an emergency. Several factors can put a pregnant woman at a higher risk of having premature labor and delivery.
Awareness of strategies to delay and prevent premature birth can help the mother have the most enjoyable pregnancy. Preparing in advance can help you proactively manage your time of pregnancy to be a good and positive experience. About 50% of the time, when a premature birth occurs, the cause or causes are unknown. However, some causes and signs of premature birth are commonly known.
SOME COMMONLY KNOWN RISK FACTORS:
One significant risk factor for premature labor and delivery is when a woman is pregnant with twins or multiple babies. Over recent years, the rate of twins and multiple babies has increased. Fertility drugs and other assisted reproduction techniques are considered to be the main reason for an increase in twins, triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets, and more. Mothers of twins and multiple babies often go into premature labor spontaneously.
About half of all twin deliveries occur at 36 weeks or less.
Half of triplets deliver before 32 weeks or less.
Additionally when giving birth to multiple babies, early labor may need to be induced due to complications.
Another critical risk factor to be aware of is infections. Some types of infections that can result in premature births are as follows.
Untreated Urinary Infections:
Urinary infections can double the risk of premature birth. Your obstetrician will periodically be screening for urinary infections at the expectant mother’s medical visits. If a urinary infection is discovered, antibiotics may be prescribed for treatment.
Bacterial vaginosis doubles the risk of premature birth. A light or heavy vaginal discharge that has a mild “fishy” smell can be one of the easily noticeable symptoms. This infection can also be treated with antibiotics.
3. Body Stresses
Other factors for premature labor and delivery include particular stress to your body from substances or physical demands. These risks include anemia, slow maternal weight gain, stressful work habits, smoking, drinking alcohol, and using drugs.
Some other risk factors for premature birth include prior multiple abortions, low pre-pregnancy weight, and being under 17 or over 40 years of age. Being aware of these risks can help you and your doctor determine whether you and your baby need special care to prevent premature labor.
If you at high risk due to these factors mentioned above, your physician can help take special precautions to ensure the best outcomes for you and your new baby.
A FEW TIPS FOR PREVENTION:
- Eat a nutritious and balanced diet. A nutritious, well-balanced diet is vital to the health of you and your baby.
- Try to minimize the stress in your life whenever possible. Deal with stress using relaxation techniques, nutrition, and rest. Exercise is also a good stress reliever if you are cleared to do so by your doctor. If you are clear, you should avoid heavy lifting. If your physician thinks you are at high risk for premature labor, they may suggest that you refrain from having sexual intercourse.
- Prevent infections as much as possible.
- Quit smoking before your pregnancy, or as early as you can during the pregnancy.
- Avoid drinking alcohol and using recreational drugs. This can be significant in improving the outcome of your pregnancy and the health of your new baby.
- Make sure to advise your health care provider of all medications that you are taking. Some medications can be harmful to your pregnancy and might need to be phased out beforehand.
- It’s essential to maintain a healthy body weight throughout your pregnancy. Your increase in weight may vary; make sure to discuss with your health care provider what is right for you. If you are under 17 years or over 35 years of age, carrying twins or multiple babies, your nutrition and optimal prenatal care is particularly important.
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