Every pregnant woman hopes to have a healthy gestation of 37 weeks. However, one major area of concern that a lot of women face today is the fear of going through preterm labor.
As the term suggests, preterm labor means that you deliver before the due date. While a few days plus and minus are perfectly normal, having to undergo delivery in the 7th or 8th month of pregnancy involves high risk, both for the mother and the baby (1).
These days, gynecologists can foresee this problem and often advise bed-rest to their patients. There are signs and symptoms that are quite clear and can also be put under control if identified at the right time.
So how does one really prevent preterm labor? Is this done naturally or are there medicines for the same? Can you have a perfect pregnancy and still have preterm labor? But fret not! Here’s an expert’s guide on all you need to know about preterm labor, its causes and preventive measures.
When a pregnant woman is told that she might go through a preterm, the first thing that comes to mind is, where did I go wrong? Could I have done something to not get into this mess? Is my baby going to be ok? While it’s easy to blame yourself, delivering much before the due date is something that could happen to anyone.
In the case of preterm babies, the risks are high. A baby could have respiratory issues or audio/visual impairments. Also, the chances of having low birth weight are high. Delays in regular developmental cycles are common and the little one could be at the risk of acquiring cerebral palsy, a neurological problem. That’s not all; there is also a big chance of infant mortality.
Here are a few common factors responsible for preterm labor:
Socio-economic factors: The age of the expectant mother, low maternal income or socio economic cases are worrisome reasons.
Medical concerns: If you have acquired an infection, had a previous preterm baby, a case of carrying multiples or a history of high blood pressure, then, unfortunately, you are at a risk of preterm labor.
Bad habits: Smoking, drinking and drug abuse could be crucial in playing a spoilsport in an otherwise healthy pregnancy. Late prenatal care and stress are other factors that lead to a preterm baby.
Let’s now focus on the ways in which you can reduce your chances of preterm labor. First, and foremost, prenatal care is a must. As a pregnant woman, your diet needs to be taken care of, you need a hygienic environment and your mind should be stress-free as much as possible. Also, your midwife or gynecologist needs to be completely cued into your health and physical concerns, so they can guide you better.
It’s a common phenomenon that women who do not have good healthcare access, especially the ones who cannot afford it, are at a higher risk of preterm labor. It always helps to steer clear of infections, low or high blood pressure and illnesses during pregnancy.
Another strange but true fact is that we often tend to ignore our dental health before and during the pregnancy. Dental issues are great contributing factors to preterm labor (2). If you have a preferred dentist, do inform them of your pregnancy.
Eat well. Make sure your diet includes a lot of fruits and vegetables. Consume a lot of fluids, try and gain the appropriate amount of weight and ensure that you do not miss your prenatal medicines at any cost.
If yoga is something you like doing, your chances of preterm labor can be reduced. A relaxed walk, some meditation, and easy yoga exercises work wonders in most cases.
So if you think, you are at a high risk for preterm birth, speak to your doctor immediately. Remember, your body will clearly give you signs. If you don’t feel something right, do share it with your doctor.