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:
- 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
It is important to notify your doctor if you think you are experiencing preterm labor.
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, including women with a history of preterm delivery, short cervical length noted on ultrasound, a history of cervical surgeries such as a D&C, and smoking. Other risk factors include young or advanced age of the mother, substance abuse, stress, depression, and carrying more than one baby.
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.
The physicians at Women's Care of Wisconsin are devoted to you and your health. That means having the most advanced techniques, up-to-date educational information and a compassionate, caring staff. Our providers offer a well-rounded approach to your OB/GYN care, one that meets both your physical and emotional needs throughout every phase of your life. We call it our Circle of Care.