How likely am I to experience preterm birth again?

If you’ve already experienced preterm birth, you might be nervous about future pregnancies. But how likely is it really for parents who have had a preterm birth to have another one?

People with a history of preterm birth have an increased chance of future preterm birth, but that doesn’t definitely 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.

How can I reduce my risk?

Reducing some risk factors can decrease the likelihood of preterm birth. Some of these include a short cervix, smoking tobacco, or contracting certain infections during pregnancy. If you have any of these risk factors, it’s worth working with your healthcare provider to develop strategies to lower your risk.

Are there treatment options for a short cervix?

Yes! Cervical insufficiency (also known as a short cervix) can lead to an elevated risk of preterm birth. Requesting a transvaginal ultrasound to measure cervical length is a great way to help assess your risk. Talk to your healthcare provider about treatment options such as cerclage. Cerclage is a stitch put in your cervix to help keep it closed that gets removed at around 37 weeks of pregnancy.

How does getting pregnant again shortly after birth factor into this?

It’s best to wait at least 18 months after giving birth before getting pregnant again. This gives your body the chance to recuperate and can lessen your risk of preterm birth. Talk to your healthcare provider about birth control options and they can help you make the decision that’s right for you.

How do smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, and abusing drugs impact pregnancy?

All of these factors can increase put you and your baby’s health at risk and can lead to preterm birth. If you need help quitting, talk to your healthcare provider and reach out to your support systems for help. You can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to be connected to your state’s quitline.

Try your best to stay away from situations where these may be available and get rid of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco from your home. 

Can certain infections increase my risk?

Infections such as the flu, food poisoning, and sexually transmitted infections are all risk factors for preterm birth. Ask your provider about relevant vaccines to prevent these infections such as the flu, measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox. Make sure to wash your hands well after going to the bathroom, dealing with raw meat and chicken, and interacting with children. You can also get tested and treated for sexually transmitted diseases to decrease your risk. Contact your provider if you feel under the weather or think you may have an infection.

  • “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.
Get the Ovia Pregnancy app
Get our app at the Apple App Store Get our app at the Apple App Store Get our app at the Google Play Store Get our app at the Google Play Store