All about premature birth

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November is Prematurity Awareness Month and Pampers has partnered with the March of Dimes to bring attention to the serious problem of premature birth. For every new Pampers subscription at Amazon, from November 11 thru November 17, Pampers will donate $10* to the March of Dimes.

Raising awareness of this problem for moms, babies and families is what the month of November is all about. Check out this article to learn about some of the causes of premature birth, and to help prevent it. Then celebrate, thank and remember everyone who has helped you and anyone close to you who has been affected by premature birth.

What are the signs and symptoms of preterm labor?

If you have any of these signs or symptoms before 37 weeks of pregnancy, you may be having preterm labor:

  • Change in your vaginal discharge (watery, mucus or bloody) or more vaginal discharge than usual
  • Pressure in your pelvis or lower belly, like your baby is pushing down
  • Constant low, dull backache
  • Belly cramps with or without diarrhea
  • Regular or frequent contractions that make your belly tighten like a fist. The contractions may or may not be painful.
  • Your water breaks

If you have even one sign or symptom of preterm labor, call your health care provider right away.

What causes premature birth?

We don’t always know what causes preterm labor and premature birth. However, we do know some things may make you more likely to have preterm labor and premature birth. These are risk factors. Having a risk factor doesn’t mean you’ll have preterm labor or give birth early, but it may increase your chances.

Risk factors for preterm labor and premature birth

These three risk factors make you most likely to have preterm labor and give birth early:

Before pregnancy, your risk may be increased if you have a family health history of premature birth, are under or overweight or if you get pregnant again too soon. During pregnancy, your risk may be increased if you have diabetes, high blood pressure or infections like sexually transmitted infections and infections of the uterus, urinary tract or vagina.

Other risk factors include smoking, drinking alcohol, using street drugs or abusing prescription drugs; having a lot of stress in your life, including having little education, low income, being unemployed or having little support from family and friends; and working long hours or having to stand a lot.

Being pregnant with a baby who has certain birth defects, like heart defects or spina bifida, can increase your risk for preterm labor and premature birth. Birth defects, or health conditions that are present at birth, change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body. Birth defects can cause problems in overall health, how the body develops or how the body works.

When is a baby considered premature?

A premature baby is one who is born too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Pregnancy usually lasts about 40 weeks from the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period (LMP) to her due date. Premature babies may have more health problems and may need to stay in the hospital longer than babies born later. They also may have long-term health problems that can affect them throughout life.

How do you calculate a premature baby’s age?

Babies who are born prematurely often have two ages — chronological age and adjusted age. Chronological age is the age of the baby from the day of birth — the number of days, weeks or years old. Adjusted age is the age of the baby based on his due date. If a baby is six months old, but was born two months early, his adjusted age is four months.

Preventing prematurity

Preventing all preterm birth is not possible, but you may be able to reduce your risk.
Here’s how:

  • Don’t smoke, drink alcohol, use street drugs or abuse prescription drugs.
  • Go to all your prenatal care checkups, even if you’re feeling fine.
  • Talk to your provider about how much weight you should gain during pregnancy.
  • Get treated for chronic health conditions.
  • Protect yourself from infections.
  • Reduce your stress.
  • Wait at least 18 months (1½ years) between giving birth and getting pregnant again. Your body needs this time to recover from one pregnancy before it’s ready for another.

Thanks for reading!

The more we know about premature birth, and the more we talk openly about it, the better we’ll be at supporting moms, babies and families.

To help the littlest fighters, Pampers has created the Swaddlers NICU flat diaper to meet the needs of babies who are too delicate to wear regular diapers.

You can make a difference, too, by tapping the button below to start a Pampers subscription at Amazon. For every new Pampers subscription at Amazon, from November 11 thru November 17, Pampers will donate $10* to the March of Dimes.

Subscribe at Amazon

This ad is brought to you by Pampers

  • *Up to $150,000
  • *The March of Dimes does not endorse specific brands or products.
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