November 16, 2020
Prematurity: Know Your Risks, Know Prevention, Know Support
By: Cara Terreri | 0 Comments
November is Prematurity Awareness Month and tomorrow, November 17 is World Prematurity Day. March of Dimes is one of the founding and largest organizations shining a light on prematurity awareness around the world. They provide critical resources to parents and organize funding for research. I encourage you to visit their site to learn more about prematurity, especially if you are planning on have children in the near future, currently trying to conceive, pregnant, or know and love others who have been impacted by prematurity. Today, we will provide overview information on the most critical need-to-know points related to prematurity.
Risk Factors for Prematurity
Experts don't always know what causes babies to be born prematurely, but there are certain known things that can increase your risks of having a baby prematurely. That said, you can do everything "right" and still have a premature birth. Approximately 1 in 10 babies are born preterm in the United States. Common risk factors -- these are conditions that may increase your chance of having a preterm birth -- include:
Top 3 Risk Factors
- Previously given birth to a premature baby
- Pregnant with multiples (twins, triplets, etc.)
- Problems with your uterus or cervix now or in the past
Pre-pregnancy Risk Factors
- Underweight or overweight prior to pregnancy
- Family history of premature birth (grandmother, mother, sister)
- Pregnancy too soon after having a baby (less than 18 months)
During Pregnancy Risk Factors
- Health conditions, like: connective tissue disorders, diabetes, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, infections, intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy, thrombophilias,
- Lack of or late prenatal care
- Low weight gain during your pregnancy
- Vaginal bleeding in the second or third trimester
- Your water breaks before 37 weeks of pregnancy, called "preterm premature rupture of the membranes" (PPROM)
- Pregnancy after IVF
- Pregnancy with a baby who has certain birth defects
- Risk factors in your everyday life for preterm labor and premature birth
- Smoking, drinking alcohol, using drugs and/or abusing prescription drugs
- High or chronic stress
- Low socioeconomic status
- Domestic violence
- Working long hours or standing a lot
- Exposure to air pollution, lead, radiation and chemicals
While there are many things you can't change about your risk factors for prematurity, there are a handful of things you can control.
- Manage weight -- this includes getting to a healthy weight prior to pregnancy and managing weight during pregnancy. Work with your care provider to determine what's best for you.
- Quit/avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, using street drugs or abusing prescription drugs. Talk to your provider about programs to help you quit if you're having difficulty.
- Start prenatal care right away and go to all of your appointments, regardless of how you feel.
- Get treated for any health problems, including ongoing health issues that existed prior to pregnancy and new ones. Do not stop or start any medication without input from your health care provider.
- Do what you can to avoid infections, including getting vaccinated, washing hands, handling raw meat safely, not eating raw foods, and not handling cat poop.
- Find multiple ways to reduce the stresses in your life.
- Wait at least 18 months after you give birth to get pregnant again. Talk to your care provider about timing specific to your needs between pregnancies.
Finding Support for Prematurity
Parents who have a premature baby are often thrown into an unknown and overwhelming situation with little time to prepare. It's important to be able to find lots of support and resources, quickly and easily. In addition to the massive amounts of evidence-based information on their website, March of Dimes offers the following support to families:
Learn more about preterm birth and how you can have a healthy pregnancy, and find ways to support critical ongoing initiatives at March of Dimes.
TagsPremature Birth Prematurity Awareness Month World Prematurity Day