Risk Factors Preterm Birth | Are You at Risk for Premature Labor?

Delivering a premature infant is a very traumatic experience. When we find out we’re pregnant, we plan our lives around the estimated 40 week “incubation” period. There is almost no way possible to prepare yourself mentally and physically for a premature birth.

Women who have experienced premature delivery are faced with many emotions. These women will ultimately experience and have to deal with the grieving process. They may become angry, asking themselves, “Why me?” Before they can accept and come to terms with the fact that most premature births have no known cause, they might blame themselves.

Can anything be done to prevent premature labor?

Ultimately, couples who are thinking about conceiving or trying to conceive are at a greater advantage. Research has indicated that the state of you and your partner’s health at the time of conception can play a role in pregnancy outcome.

If you’re thinking about becoming pregnant, set up an appointment with your doctor. Let your physician know about your plans. Women who are trying to become pregnant should strive to be at their healthiest. This includes eating a well balanced diet, being at a healthy weight, free from smoking, drinking in excess and free from recreational drugs. If you do use recreational drugs, this is very important to tell your doctor. Your doctor can assist you in finding the help that you need. Being overweight or underweight is also a risk factor for premature birth.

Women who take prescription drugs should talk with their doctor before attempting to become pregnant. Some medications are not safe to take before becoming pregnant or during pregnancy. Uncontrolled health conditions are also a risk factor in premature birth.

It’s also a good idea to pay a visit to the dentist before you become pregnant. If you’re in need of dental work like fillings or extractions, the best time to get this done is prior to pregnancy. Once you’re pregnant, dental work is limited due to the risks involved. Infection is another risk factor for premature birth.

Along the lines of pre-pregnancy health, many doctors also suggest taking prenatal vitamins, especially those containing iron and folic acid, as much as a year before trying to conceive.

Once you become pregnant, make sure you visit your OB/GYN or Midwife regularly for prenatal care. Each visit is important because not only is the growth and development of your baby being monitored, your health is as well. Certain sexually transmitted diseases are also linked to premature births. Testing for STD’s is a common pre-natal screening.

Who is at risk for premature labor?

Certain women are at higher risk for preterm labor. Women carrying multiples are at an increased risk. Researchers also believe that women who have a history of preterm labor are at a higher risk for reoccurrence.

According to The March of Dimes, African-American women, women younger than 17 and older than 35 and those living in poverty are at a greater risk than other women for preterm labor.

There is still no way to completely ensure you’ll deliver a full term baby. Although couples who plan their pregnancies do have some advantages, it’s never too late to start making healthy choices.

Since premature labor is the leading cause of deaths for infants in America, and so much is still not known about what causes premature labor, if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk to your doctor about your risks for premature labor.

It may also be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of premature labor so that if you’re ever faced with the possibility, you will be more informed.

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