Preventing Premature Births

Prevention of Premature Births

Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait

Mother and newborn It's best to wait until at least 39 weeks and to let labor begin on its own.

Sometimes mothers, mothers-to-be, and even doctors think it is safe to have a baby early. But did you know that a baby's brain nearly doubles in weight in the last few weeks of pregnancy?

The health department has joined the March of Dimes and the Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait campaign to educate moms and moms-to-be, that if your pregnancy is healthy, it’s best to wait until at least 39 weeks and to let labor begin on its own.

  • Questions to ask your health care provider


  • Healthy babies are worth the wait


 

Here are some reasons why babies are worth the wait:

  • A full term pregnancy is 40 weeks. Studies have shown that more than half of women think it’s safe to deliver between 34 and 36 weeks, even though babies benefit from time to develop.
  • Important organs like the brain, lungs and liver are still developing up until the end of pregnancy.
  • A baby born just a few weeks early may have vision and hearing problems, have trouble staying warm and feeding.

Ways of Preventing or Reducing the Risk of Premature Birth

Live a healthy lifestyle

  • Avoid tobacco, smoking, e-cigarettes, and second hand smoke
  • Don’t drink alcohol while trying to get pregnant and during pregnancy
  • Don’t use street drugs and avoid misuse of prescription drugs
  • Eat a balanced diet with foods containing iron and folic acid
  • Be active every day: try to get 30 minutes of exercise every day
  • Get medical conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure under control
  • Lose weight to avoid being obese; if you are underweight, gain weight
  • Lower your stress levels: try yoga, meditation, being active, support groups, balance work and your life
  • Work on having a healthy relationship with your partner without violence

Take good care of yourself and your baby during pregnancy

  • Seek prenatal care early in your pregnancy, particularly if you have any risk factors for preterm birth such as having had a premature baby in the past, or having a problem with your uterus or cervix
  • Attend prenatal visits with your partner
  • Tell your physician or midwife if you think you are having signs of premature labor (below)
  • Live a healthy lifestyle
  • If you and your baby are healthy, it is best to wait until at least 39 weeks and let labor begin on its own

Know the signs of premature labor

Notify your pregnancy care physician or midwife if you have:

  • Contractions, cramping, or tightening of your uterus occurring more than 4-5 times in an hour
  • Abdominal cramps, with or without diarrhea
  • Lower backache that may be constant or may come and go
  • Pressure in your vagina or pelvic region
  • Ache in your inner thighs
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Fluid leaking from your vagina - your water breaks with a gush or a trickle
  • Bleeding in any amount coming from your vagina

If you have had a premature baby in the past:

  • Ask your health care provider about progesterone therapy. There is a type of progesterone called 17-alpha hydroxyprogesterone caproate, or 17P for short, that can help you carry your pregnancy longer than the previous one.
  • If your cervix is shorter than expected, your health care provider may suggest a different type of progesterone, or that you could benefit from a Cerclage, which is a stitch placed in the cervix to help hold it closed until your baby is full term.