Pregnancies normally last until around 40 weeks (about 9 months); but for some, it unexpectedly ends at less than 37 weeks which is called preterm. Preterm (or premature) labor occurs after 20 weeks and before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Prematurity has been linked to problems such as slow growth, cerebral palsy, learning difficulties, and developmental delays as well.
Below are some of the factors that can cause preterm labor and what you can do to help prevent it. If you are having one of these risk factors, it does not necessarily mean you will go into preterm labor.
Factors That Can Cause Preterm Labor:
– Smoking, Alcohol, and Drug Use.
– Uterine and Vaginal Infections.
– Short Interval Between Pregnancies. (Sooner than 18 months)
– Gum Infections.
– Stress Levels.
– Occupational Factors.
– Maternal Age.
– Pregnancy Complications. (Such as preeclampsia, placenta previa, gestational diabetes, etc)
– Structural Abnormalities of the Uterus and/or Cervix.
– Carrying Multiples.
– A Previous Preterm Birth.
– If You Were Born Preterm Yourself.
How To Help Prevent It:
– See and Speak With Your Doctor.
– Control What You Can.
– Watch Your Weight.
– Be Sure To Take Your Prenatal Vitamins.
– Eat a Healthy Diet.
– Try To Go 18 Months Between Pregnancies.
– Drink Enough Water To Stay Hydrated.
– Get Treatments For Any Infections.
– Dental Hygiene.
– Get Health/Prenatal Screenings.
If you do give birth to a baby prematurely, your baby can still live a healthy life. However, if you do go into labor before 34 weeks, there is a very high chance that your baby will need to stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for the first few days up to a couple months of their life. The farther along you are, the shorter your little one’s stay will probably be before they get to go home (if there were no other health problems at birth). But with the advanced medical technology that doctors and hospitals now have, your chances of bringing home a happy, healthy baby are very high.
Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and therefore should not take the place of medical care or your physician’s advice.