Prevention of Premature Labor
  

One of the things that new mothers worry about is the possibility of premature labor, also known as preterm labor or delivery, where the baby is born before the 37th week of pregnancy and does not complete the pregnancy term. Premature labor is not a very common occurrence, and in most cases steps can be taken to reduce the risk. To allay unfounded fears and help you determine whether you have real cause for concern, we've compiled a list of some of the more common causes of preterm labor.

 

Strenuous Physical Labor


While it's important that you stay active while pregnant, it's also equally important to avoid overdoing it. Spending long hours on your feet or doing strenuous physical labor and heavy lifting can place your body under great stress, particularly during the last few months of your pregnancy, which can increase the risk of preterm labor. Consult with your doctor on when you should start simplifying your daily schedule and which activities to avoid.

 


Acute Emotional Stress


Recent studies have labeled acute emotional stress as a factor of preterm delivery. Extreme emotional stress can result from having a high-pressure job, family disputes or concerns over health problems, and not only is it bad for your baby, it can also have a serious negative impact on your own health on the longer run. Finding ways to relax, following a nutritious diet, and getting proper exercise and enough rest can all help reduce stress. You can also relieve your pent up anxiety by discussing your problems with your spouse, friends, family, doctor or therapist.

 

Harmful Habits


Being pregnant is a source of joy, but it is also a source of responsibility; you don't have just yourself to look after any more, you have another life depending on your every decision. Kicking bad habits such as smoking is essential if you don't want to compromise the health of your baby, let alone your own health. Ideally you should quit bad habits as soon as you find out that you're pregnant, but quitting any time during your pregnancy is better than not quitting at all.

 

Gum Disease & General Infections


Getting regular dental care, practicing good oral hygiene and following up on any physical infections and illnesses is paramount to preventing and detecting potential risks to your baby, as recent studies indicate that bacterial and other types of infections can tangibly increase the risk of premature delivery.

 

Multiples


Women pregnant with two or more babies tend to deliver by the 37th week, which technically isn't considered a premature delivery as the full term for carrying twins is 37 weeks. Mothers carrying multiples can reduce their risk of preterm delivery by following good prenatal care, getting proper nutrition, eliminating other risk factors and getting the rest they need during their last trimester.

 


Chronic Maternal Illness


Expectant mothers suffering from chronic illnesses such as liver, kidney or heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes are at higher risk of preterm delivery and should make sure that they get good medical follow-up and proper self-care to minimize their risk of preterm delivery as much as possible. If you have any chronic illnesses, speak with your doctor to determine what sort of medical care you need. 

 
Incompetent Cervix


The cervix, which is the bottom part of the uterus, usually remains closed until your baby is ready to be born, but in the case of an incompetent cervix, it may begin to widen ahead of time, usually between the 4th and 6th month of pregnancy, resulting in early delivery. Since the premature widening of the cervix is painless, it can go undetected until it is too late, which is why regular prenatal checkups are important. One sign you should look out for is vaginal spotting or bleeding, which you should report immediately to your doctor. 

 

Improper Weight Gain & Malnutrition


Following a proper diet and controlling your weight are key factors to a healthy pregnancy. Try to put an effort into adopting a nutritionally rich diet that not only offers you and your baby the nutrients you need, but also ensures that you neither gain too much weight nor end up underweight, as both extremes can increase your chances of premature delivery. If you're unsure whether you're on the right track, talk to your doctor or nutritionist to learn which weight gain and diet program you should follow.