Prematurity Awareness Month: Tips for a Low-Risk Pregnancy
November 15, 2018
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, one in 10 babies born in the United States is delivered prematurely.1 While we don’t have a full understanding of the causes of premature births, and recognize that it’s impossible to prevent all of them, there are steps women can take to reduce their risk of delivering before their due dates.1
What is a premature birth?
Doctors consider any birth that happens before the 37th week of pregnancy to be premature.2 Babies born this early are at higher risk of immediate and long-term health challenges.2
While there are some common factors that contribute to an increased incidence of premature birth, some babies are born too early for reasons outside of their mothers’ control. Carrying more than one baby, the age of the mother, and unavoidable stress can be contributing factors to delivering preterm.2
How to reduce your risk of premature birth
Before and during pregnancy, there are several things you can do to increase your chances of carrying your baby past the 37-week mark.
Talk with your doctor about healthy weight gain.
Going to every prenatal appointment is crucial throughout your pregnancy.3 At those appointments, talk to you doctor about what a healthy weight gain would look like for you. Your doctor is your best source of information about pregnancy and weight.
Avoid using cigarettes and substances.
Smoking can make it more difficult for women to become pregnant.4 It’s also one cause of premature birth and low birth weight.4 Be honest with your health care practitioner about your tobacco use and ask for help quitting if you have difficulty stopping on your own. Secondhand smoke is also harmful to a mother and her developing baby.4
Monitor blood pressure.
You may have high blood pressure during pregnancy without realizing it. There aren’t usually any noticeable symptoms, but unresolved elevated blood pressure can be a contributing factor to premature birth.5 Your doctor can talk with you about normal ranges for blood pressure readings and how you can best monitor your blood pressure during pregnancy.
Eat a balanced and nutritious diet.
Many women who have pregnancy-induced nausea may find it difficult to eat a well-balanced diet every day. While you’re pregnant, you are eating to support the nutritional needs of your changing body and your developing baby so be sure to talk with your doctor about finding a prenatal vitamin to fill any nutritional gaps in your diet. Prenate® Vitamins can help support you and your baby throughout pregnancy and beyond. The Prenate® Vitamin family is committed to supporting the health of moms and babies throughout preconception, pregnancy and breastfeeding. Talk to your doctor to see if a prenatal vitamin is the right choice for you and your baby.
Learn relaxation techniques.
Feeling tense or stressed out is a common problem during pregnancy. Relaxation techniques like prenatal yoga or meditation can help calm your mind and reduce the negative effects of pregnancy-related physical discomfort.6 Learning techniques to help you relax can also help support your mental health throughout pregnancy.6
Monitor your blood sugar.
Women who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes during pregnancy and who monitor their blood sugar closely can have a normal pregnancy and carry their babies to term.7 Any type of diabetes or pre-diabetes brings additional health concerns to a pregnancy. Work closely with your medical team to make sure that your diabetes is well-controlled.
Resolve depression and extreme stress.
Pregnant women who are under extreme stress or who suffer from depression may have an increased chance of delivering a baby before 37 weeks gestation.6 Pregnancy is an already stressful and exciting time, so reach out to your support network of friends and family with requests for help when needed.
Talk to your doctor about services such as counseling that may be available to help you work through relationship problems or cope with a high-stress job. Discuss any medications you take for anxiety or depression, as well.