Reducing Your Risk for Preterm Labor and Delivery
Karen Schroeder Kassel, MS, RD, MEd
There are steps that you can take before you become pregnant and during your pregnancy to reduce your risk
Take Care of Your Health
- Get good prenatal care. See your doctor before trying to get pregnant. See your doctor regularly during your pregnancy. Go to all your prenatal appointments, even if you feel fine.
Get treatment for any infections. For example, if you feel burning or pain when you urinate, tell your doctor. You may have a
- If you take prescription drugs, ask your doctor if they are safe before or during pregnancy.
- If you use
herbal supplements, stop them before trying to get pregnant. Check with your doctor on the safety of any supplements before using them.
Eat a Healthy Diet and Stay Active
well-balanced diet. Do not skip meals.
- Stay active during your pregnancy. Your doctor can give you exercise guidelines.
Make Lifestyle Changes
quit. Smoking increases the risk of pregnancy complications, like premature birth. If you quit smoking, your risk of premature birth becomes similar to that of mothers who are nonsmokers. This is just one of the many benefits of quitting.
- Avoid secondhand smoke.
Do not drink
while you are trying to get pregnant or during pregnancy.
Do not use
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Learn strategies to
- Physical and emotional abuse is harmful to you and your baby. If you are in an abusive relationship, seek help from your doctor, family, or friends. You can also call organizations like the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
Learn the Signs of Preterm Labor
To reduce the risk of preterm labor progressing to preterm delivery, learn the signs of preterm labor. Call your doctor right away if you have any signs of preterm labor.
High Risk Women
Women with a history of preterm births may need to have extra care to prevent preterm labor. Your doctor may recommend progesterone therapy during pregnancy or having a cerclage placed.
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http://www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/stayingsafe_abuse.html. Updated October 2008. Accessed April 23, 2013.
Preterm labor. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at:
http://www.acog.or.... Accessed April 23, 2013.
Prevention of preterm labor and preterm birth. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated January 16, 2013 . Accessed April 23, 2013.
Reduce your risk of preterm labor and birth. March of Dimes website. Available at:
http://www.marchof.... Updated September 2012. Accessed April 23, 2013.
7/21/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: McCowan LM, Dekker GA, Chan E, et al. Spontaneous preterm birth and small for gestational age infants in women who stop smoking early in pregnancy: prospective cohort study.
Last reviewed April 2013 by Andrea Chisholm, MD; Brian Randall, MD
Last Updated: 4/23/2013