Pregnancy is one of the most exciting and vulnerable times of a woman's life. Most of us have thought about pregnancy and how our pregnancy would go long before we were actually pregnant. Most of the time, everything goes just right. However, almost one in ten women deliver preterm (defined as less than 37 weeks). These babies miss out on the important growth and development that happens in the final weeks. Preterm birth is a leading cause of infant mortality. Babies who survive can have health problems, both short- and long-term.
Some of the signs and symptoms of a preterm labor are:
It is important to notify your doctor if you think you are experiencing preterm labor.
- Contractions (the abdomen tightens like a fist) every 10 minutes or more often
- Pelvic pressure - the feeling that the baby is pushing down
- Low, dull backache
- Cramps that feel like a menstrual period
- Abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea
While we don't understand all the reasons some babies are born too soon, we do know that some factors increase the risk of preterm birth: young or advanced age of the mother, cigarette or substance abuse, stress, depression, and carrying more than one baby. Socioeconomic factors also play a role, many of which are more common in African- American communities and threaten the health of pregnant women and their families.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has identified five proven strategies to reduce preterm births:
- Prevent unintended pregnancies and achieve an ideal length of time between pregnancies
- Provide women ages 18 - 44 years access to health care before and between pregnancies to help manage chronic conditions and modify other risk behaviors
- Identify women at risk for giving birth too early and offer effective treatments to prevent preterm birth
- Discourage deliveries before 39 weeks without a medical need
- When in vitro fertilization is used, elect to transfer just one embryo, as appropriate, to reduce multiple births.
As November is Prematurity Awareness Month, we invite everyone - future parents, pregnant women and everyone supporting them through their pregnancy, healthcare providers, public health professionals, and others - to learn about preterm birth and take action to prevent it.
The providers of Women's Care of Wisconsin believe having a healthy pregnancy starts before a woman is pregnant. Healthy babies begin with healthy mothers. We promote a well-balanced lifestyle to our patients, which means preconception care, proper nutrition, routine exercise, a healthy, safe environment, as well as a daily prenatal vitamin with folic acid. With good guidance, avoidable conditions that may have everlasting consequences may be prevented. We would love the privilege to take care of you and answer any questions you might have about pregnancy care or preterm deliveries. Call or text us at 920.729.7105 if you have any questions or concerns.