17 Nov World Prematurity Day
Did you know that there are specific risk factors for preterm labor and birth? Read on to find out what you can do to lower your risk!
Preterm labor is labor that begins before the 37th week of pregnancy. Labor is the process your body goes through to give birth. Babies who are born before 37 weeks of pregnancy may have short-term health problems and are likely to stay in the hospital longer than full term babies.
Sometimes preterm babies have long term health issues related to the brain, lungs, hearing and vision. There are a variety of treatments to try to slow or stop preterm labor and help lower health risks to the baby, such as tocolytics (that slow labor), corticosteroids (that speed baby’s development) and antibiotics (that prevent infection).2
Many of the factors related to preterm labor and birth are preventable. You can help lower you and your baby’s risk by educating yourself about the contributing factors, accessing your community and healthcare resources, and making positive lifestyle choices.
Signs and Symptoms of Preterm Labor
Risk Factors for Preterm Labor
Genetic risk factors like a family history of preterm birth or genetic diseases like Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes (connective tissue disorders) may increase a person’s risk for early labor. Being pregnant with a baby with a birth defect, like a heart condition or spina bifida, can increase the risk too. Other times, age and weight (over or under) may be a factor. Being pregnant and under the age of 17 or over 35 can increase your risk.
Lowering Your Risk
Limit environmental toxins like secondhand smoke, pollution, lead, and radiation.
Commit to decreasing stress by evaluating your work situation, incorporating rest and relaxation, and connecting with people, places and events that spark joy.
Severe stress, such as living in an emotionally or physically abusive situation, warrants immediate intervention. Reach out for help as soon as you’re safe to do so. Call/text/chat anytime.
Go to your prenatal checkups early and regularly.
Avoid smoking, drinking, illegal or prescription drug abuse.
Get treatment for chronic health conditions.
Eat a nutritious, balanced diet to maintain a healthy weight; Here is a Resource to assist .
Protect against infections with vaccines, good hand hygiene, avoiding cat feces and raw meat, fish, and eggs while pregnant.
Space pregnancies at least 18 months apart.3
You’ll want to collaborate with your healthcare provider to manage and monitor these conditions, preferably before pregnancy.
World Prematurity Day
- March of Dimes. 2021. Signs and symptoms of preterm labor.
- March of Dimes. March 2018. Preterm labor and premature birth: Are you at risk?
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. March 2021. Preterm labor and birth.