Premature labour, also called preterm labor occurs when you experience regular contractions to your uterus causing a change to your cervix before your pregnancy reach 37 week. If you end up delivering your baby before 37 weeks, it’s called premature birth and your baby is premature. There are some circumstances that can increase your chances of giving birth prematuredly so you need to find out if you are at risk or not, and what precautions you need to take to ensure you don’t put yourself at risk.
Firstly, you need to know your own medical history since you are more likely to give birth prematurely if
- You’ve had previous premature births
- Multiple pregnancy
- Under 17 years or over 35 years old
- Have cervical insufficiency(Opening of cerix before your pregnancy reach full term)
- Have had Preterm Premature Rupture of the Membranes (PPROM)- When your waters break before 37 weeks
Other factors that can lead to premature labour and birth besides the above are
- Intrauterine infection – When bacteria infections travel up the vagina into the womb and infect it, this may cause the fetal membranes to become inflamed and infected. This may trigger premature contractions or lead to preterm premature rupture of the membranes (PPROM).
- Pre-eclampsia – High blood pressure and protein in urine usually sets in after the 20th week of pregnancy. In some cases, organs such as liver or kidneys can become affected and there can be problems with blood clotting. Read more about
- Gestational Diabetes – This usually happens when your body cannot produce enough insulin to meet its extra needs in pregnancy, thereby causing an increase in blood sugar levels. Although most women who have gestational diabetes during pregnancy go on to have healthy babies, some women develop more serious complications which could lead to preterm labour or still births.
Here are some lifestyle that can increase the risk of premature birth
2. Drinking alcohol or street drugs
3. Body weight: Moms who are overweight or underweight are at high risk of premature labour.
4. Mental health: Moms who are physically or mentally abused during pregnancy are at high risk of premature labour.
Lifestyles To Incorporate To Prevent Preterm Labour
To reduce the risk of premature labour here are some do’s and don’t;
1. Pay attention to your body
Let people call you “paranoid” but it’s better to be safe than sorry, so look out for symptoms that are unusual such as fever, vomiting, unusual pains or aches, prolonged swelling or discomfort, speak to your doctor immediately. This could help detect an infection on time.
2. Go for regular antenatal checkups
This is soo important, moms-to-be might not be able to recognise foetal distress or pregnancy complications on time, but during antenatal check-ups, your doctor or a mid-wife can detect them. Therefore, regular antenatal care is a must.
3. Eat healthy and exercise regularly
Exercising and eating healthy during pregnancy can help ensure a healthy BMI and help reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes.
4. Don’t smoke or drink
As you might have read up above, drinking and smoking can increase your risk of premature labour because the alcohol or smoke will pass through the placenta and may affect your baby.
5. Maintain high levels of hygiene
Washing your hand after engaging in anything dirty, keeping anything you usually come in contact with clean and avoiding dirty areas will help reduce the possibility of you catching an infection.
Although most preterm babies are birthed without any prior warning, if only extra care was taken many cases of premature birth could have been prevented. Take good care of yourself, exercise, watch your weight, and attend antenatal appointment faithfully and remember to watch out for any unusual symptoms.