Premature birth or preterm birth is used to describe a baby born before 37 weeks of gestation. It is common for mommies to go into labour early due to various reasons. However, the baby can still be born healthy and without any complications. In other cases, depending on the cause of premature birth, it may lead to complications that can endanger both mommy and baby’s lives. Remember, the earlier your baby is born, the higher the risk of health problems.
The most common reason for premature birth is early rupture of the fetal membranes. There are some factors that can cause this:
- Placental abruption: This happens when the placenta separates from the uterus’s inner wall early in the pregnancy. It can lead to the baby’s oxygen and food supply being cut off, leading to excessive bleeding in the mom. In such cases, emergency C-section surgery may be required.
- Cervical incompetence: As your pregnancy progresses, the cervix, which is firm and closed starts to thin and dilate to prepare for birth. However, if you have a weaker cervix, this can occur sooner in the pregnancy leading to complications and early delivery.
- Hormonal changes: A fluctuation in the hormones can cause the progesterone levels in your body to drop. This action can lead to an early onset of uterine contractions and thereby, preterm birth.
- Infections: When infection-causing bacteria or virus enter your body during pregnancy, it can cause infection in the amniotic sac. This leads to an untimely rupture of the sac, which can be life-threatening for the baby.
The chances of premature birth are more likely in mommies who have high-risk pregnancies. The following are some risk factors that can help you gauge your chances of having an early delivery:
- Previous premature delivery
- Multiple pregnancies
- Lesser than 6 months gap between pregnancies
- IVF pregnancy
- Placenta, cervix or uterus related issues
- Urinary Tract Infection or any other form of vaginal or uterine infection
- High blood pressure or diabetes
- Being underweight/overweight
- History of miscarriages
- Physical injury or trauma
Ways you can lower your chances of having a premature delivery:
- Make sure you have a nutritious and well-balanced diet
- Exercise regularly
- Keep your weight in check
- Avoid lifting heavy weights or standing in one place for too long
- Keep your vaginal area clean to avoid infections
- Wash your hands regularly to protect yourself from infections
- Don’t eat raw, undercooked or processed foods
- Meditate or practice Yoga to relieve any stress
- Get enough sleep
- Stop smoking and avoid alcohol or other recreational drugs
- Consult your doctor for surgery in case you have an incompetent cervix
- If your doctor has advised bed rest, follow it to the ‘T’
- Ask your doctor before taking any OTC medication
- Talk to your doctor about any family history of premature delivery or chronic illnesses
- Go for your check-ups regularly
Being aware of the causes of premature delivery can help you prepare for the scenario better. If you are having a high-risk pregnancy, then your doctor will advise you on the extra precautions you need to take. Even if you do have a premature deliver, there is no reason to panic. Simply follow the doctor’s counsel and stay positive. After all, your love and care are nothing less than an elixir for your baby.