Reduce your risk of preterm labor and birth
Preterm birth can happen to any pregnant woman. But it happens more often to some women than others, especially if they make certain lifestyle choices that may not be healthy for mom and baby during pregnancy.
How can you reduce your chances of having preterm labor and preterm birth?
You may be able to reduce your risk of preterm labor and early birth. Here’s what you can do:
- Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or take street drugs. Ask your provider about programs in your area that can help you quit.
- Go to your first prenatal care appointment as soon as you think you’re pregnant. During pregnancy, go to all your prenatal care appointments, even if you’re feeling fine. Prenatal care helps your provider make sure you and your baby are healthy.
- Talk to your provider about your weight. Ask how much weight you should gain during pregnancy. Try to get to a healthy weight before your next pregnancy.
- Get treated for chronic health conditions, like thyroid problems, diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Protect yourself from infections. Wash your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom or blowing your nose. Don’t eat raw meat or fish. Have safe sex. Don’t touch cat poop.
- Reduce your stress. Exercise, be active and eat healthy foods. Ask for help from family and friends. Get help if your partner abuses you. Talk to your boss about how to lower your stress at work.
- Talk to your provider about how long to wait between pregnancies. See your provider for a preconception checkup before your next pregnancy.
Last reviewed September 2012
Signs of preterm labor
- Contractions every 10 minutes or more often
- Change in vaginal discharge
- Pelvic pressure
- Low, dull backache
- Cramps that feel like your period
- Abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea