No expectant mother plans for a premature delivery of their baby. Every mother hopes that their baby will stay safely in your womb till at least the 37 weeks of gestation are over and come into this world, healthy. Unfortunately, some times, despite a mother's best efforts to do what is good for their unborn baby, they still deliver preterm.
Here are some tips to assess your risks of having a preterm baby and minimize the risk of premature labor.
Watch out for complications during pregnancy
As an expectant mum you could develop complications that could lead to preterm labor and a premature arrival of your baby due to complications developed during pregnancy. Some of the more common complications are:
Pre-eclampsia – This is a relatively common condition, affecting between two to eight in 100 women during pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia is a combination of hypertension (high blood pressure) and proteinuria (protein in urine) and usually sets in after the 20th week of pregnancy.
Gestational Diabetes – Some mothers develop this complication during pregnancy. It usually happens because your body cannot produce enough insulin to meet its extra needs in pregnancy, resulting in an increase in blood sugar levels. While most women who have gestational diabetes have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies, some women develop more serious complications which could lead to preterm labor and even still births.
SEE ALSO: How to reduce the risk of stillbirth
Intrauterine infection - Infection within the womb is one of the leading causes of preterm births. At times, bacterial infections such as E-Coli and Group B Streptococcus (GBS), chlamydia, trichomonas, gonorrhea and syphilis travel up from the vagina and infect the womb, causing the fetal membranes to become inflamed and infected. This is called chorioamnionitis.
An infection of the membranes may in itself trigger preterm contractions or lead to preterm premature rupture of the membranes (PPROM).
Be extra mindful if:
- You are expecting multiples – Being pregnant with twins, triplets or other multiples increases the risk of premature delivery.
- You have had premature births - One of the main risk factors for premature delivery is a previous premature delivery.
- You have have cervical insufficiency – This means that the cervix could open or shorten before one reaches full term, leading to preterm births. Cervical insufficiency could be attributed to the cervix being inherently weak, or the weakness may be caused by previous pregnancy, obstetric trauma or childbirth.
- You are under 17 years old or over 35 years old – The chances of going into preterm labor are heightened significantly if one falls within the age group.
While most preterm babies arrive early without any warning, you can reduce the risk of a premature birth by taking greater care, be watchful of their health and be diligent about their antenatal appointments.