Preventing Premature Births

Every year in America, more than 500,000 babies are born too early. They enter the world weeks or even months before they're ready, making them more likely to be sick or have other problems.

  • They are often not fully developed and underweight, weighing three pounds or less
  • Their lungs may not be able to work on their own
  • Their body and immune systems may not be ready to fend off germs
  • All of these problems can be too much for a small body to handle

Here's what you can do to lower the chances of a birth that comes too early:

Prenatal/before birth

  • Call your doctor as soon as you think you may be pregnant
  • At the first visit, he or she will give you a full exam, mainly looking for things that can be bad for your pregnancy , like:
    • Diabetes (high blood sugar)
    • High blood pressure
    • Urinary and Genital tract infections
    • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
    • Anemia
  • If you have any of these health problems, proper care will help you protect your baby

Folic acid and iron

  • These two nutrients are key in trying to make sure your baby isn't born before he or she is ready
  • All women who are pregnant (or planning to become pregnant) should take a daily prenatal vitamin with folic acid
  • If you don't have the right amount of iron in your blood, your doctor may give you iron supplements

Don't smoke

  • Cigarette smoke poisons your baby
  • Smoking one to nine cigarettes each day may cause a baby to be born before he or she is due
  • Pregnant women who smoke are also more likely to have miscarriages

No street drugs

  • Illegal drugs or drugs not prescribed to you by a doctor who knows you're pregnant are very bad for your baby
  • Just stay away!

Avoid alcohol

Drinking alcohol can lead to premature births and fetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause mental retardation

Be careful with herbs and over-the-counter (OTC) remedies

  • Herbs and other products sold in health-food stores may not be safe for use while pregnant
  • Some herbs, like fenugreek seeds, can bring on labor in animal tests and aren't recommended for pregnant women
  • Talk with your doctor before taking any supplements or herbs - even teas

Watch your weight

  • Women who are very underweight or too heavy sometimes have trouble carrying a child to full term
  • Underweight women can go into early labor
  • Women that weigh more than is healthy can have health problems like diabetes or high blood pressure - which may force a doctor to start labor early for the health of the baby

Keep moving

  • Unless your doctor puts you on bed rest, keep moving
  • Your doctor can help you find a workout program that's right for you

Try to relax

  • Women who are worried or nervous are more likely to give birth too early
  • Take every chance you can to relax - now might be a good time to try a prenatal yoga class!
  • If you find yourself feeling too worked up or like you can't handle things, find a therapist, counselor or other mental-health professional

Think about your body

  • Pain or burning when peeing may be a sign of an infection or an STD which can cause early labor
  • Get help as soon as you can if you notice any of the signs of early labor :
    • Unusual or more-than-normal vaginal flow/discharge
    • Pressure in the pelvis or lower belly
    • Stomach cramps
    • Frequent contractions at set times
    • A nonstop ache in the lower back that is not sharp

Medicines to help avoid early delivery

  • If you have delivered early before, your doctor may give you certain drugs to help your labor
  • Don't forget that there are no promises - your baby may come too early in any case
  • But whatever happens, you'll want to know you did what you could

[references] Copyright © 2010 LimeHealth

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