Preterm birth increases the risk of complications and often results in a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) stay. Preterm delivery can be scary to think about, but there are many ways that you can prevent it, in some cases with zero complications. Read on to learn more.
Preterm birth impacts Black women and babies 50% more than their white peers. This disparity exists due to racism and bias within the healthcare system itself. Still, there are actions you can take early in your prenatal care to advocate for yourself and your baby.
Understanding the risk factors
We don’t know all of the causes of preterm delivery, but what we do know is that the chances of preterm birth can be impacted by the following conditions:
- A history of having a procedure done on your cervix after an abnormal pap smear
- Shortened cervical length early in pregnancy
- A previous preterm birth
- Carrying multiples (twins, triplets, etc.)
- Using tobacco and/or other substances
Becoming pregnant shortly after delivering a previous baby (less than 18 months)
Ask what you can do
Talk to your provider about what you can be doing to minimize your chances of delivering early. Providers will frequently recommend:
- Quitting smoking or drug use, if applicable
- Eliminating alcohol
- Checking your cervical length
- Taking a progesterone treatment if you have a history of preterm birth
- Managing your blood pressure and blood glucose through the use of medication and physical activity alongside a nutritious diet
Listen to your body
You know your body best, so if you’re ever concerned that something is wrong, reach out to your provider right away. If you’re not sure that what you’re feeling is normal and want to get a better understanding of what people at your point in pregnancy typically experience, reach out to an Ovia Health Coach any time, 7 days a week. You have a right to understand what is going on in your body and to receive care and support throughout your pregnancy.
- “A Health Crisis Impacting Women and Babies of Color.” March of Dimes. March of Dimes. https://www.marchofdimes.org/mission/health-disparities.aspx.
- “Premature Birth.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. November 1, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/features/premature-birth/index.html.
- “Preterm Birth.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. November 1, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/pretermbirth.htm.
- Office of Communications. “What Are the Risk Factors for Preterm Labor and Birth?” Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/preterm/conditioninfo/who_risk.