As there is no way to tell which mothers will deliver prematurely, there are no means of preventing preterm birth with any certainty. However, there are steps mothers can take to reduce their chances of having an early delivery:
- Leading a healthy lifestyle: Avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol, controlling weight, lowering stress, and adding a folic acid supplement both before and during pregnancy can reduce a woman’s chances of having a preterm delivery.
- Treating preexisting conditions: Treating conditions such as sexually transmitted infections, vaginal infections, high blood pressure and even gum disease can reduce a woman’s risk of preterm delivery.
- Be careful with multiple pregnancies: If you are expecting twins or triplets, talk to your doctor about ways to reduce your risk of
- Be careful when scheduling a birth: It is difficult to pinpoint a due date, and having an elective cesarean section or trying to induce labor may result in an unintended premature birth.
- Spread out pregnancies: Getting pregnant within nine months of giving birth increases a woman’s risk of preterm delivery, while having babies at 18-month to five-year intervals reduces that risk.
- Be alert for early labor: Symptoms of early labor include regular contractions, vaginal spotting or bleeding, and a low, dull backache. If you have these symptoms, talk to your doctor immediately about ways you can halt the early labor and prolong the pregnancy. Bed rest, methods to slow contractions and hormone injections may be recommended.