How likely am I to experience preterm birth again?
Many women who have had previous preterm births are apprehensive about future pregnancies, and it’s only natural for mothers with a history of preterm birth to worry about this. But how likely is it really for mothers who have had a preterm birth to have another one?
There are many risk factors that can affect whether or not a baby is born premature, and one of the most significant risk factors is a previous preterm birth. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that if a woman has had a previous preterm birth, she will experience preterm birth in her next pregnancy, or even ever again. It’s entirely possible for women who have a history of a preterm birth to carry their children to a healthy full term and in fact, this happens often.
Cervical insufficiency (also known as a short cervix) can also lead to an elevated risk of preterm birth. Requesting a transvaginal ultrasound to measure cervical length is a great way to help assess you risk.
In some cases, reducing other risk factors can decrease a woman’s likelihood of preterm birth. Some of these include being overweight or not weighing enough, smoking tobacco, having sexually transmitted infections during pregnancy, and getting pregnant again in the 18 months after you give birth. Reducing any of these factors would decrease a woman’s likelihood of experiencing another preterm birth. If you have any of these risk factors, it’s worth working with your healthcare provider to develop strategies to lessen your risk.
Women with a history of preterm birth do have an increased chance of a future preterm birth, but a history of preterm birth definitely doesn’t guarantee another one. So if you’ve found yourself worrying about your next birth experience, rest assured that the odds are good that your next pregnancy will be carried to full term.
- “Thinking about pregnancy after premature birth.” MarchofDimes. March of Dimes Foundation, Jan 2013. Web.
- MM Adams. “Rates of and factors associated with recurrence of preterm delivery.” JAMA. 283(12):1591-6. Web. Mar 2000.
- Spong, MD, Catherine Y. “Prediction and Prevention of Recurrent Spontaneous Preterm Birth.” Obstetrics and Gynecology. 110:405-415. Web. Aug 2007.
- MD Esplin, et al. “Estimating Recurrence of Spontaneous Preterm Delivery.” Obstetrics and Gynecology. 112:516-523. Web. Sept 2008.