Preterm labor occurs when an expecting mother delivers a baby before the 37th week of pregnancy, which is approximately three weeks before the due date. Although many premature babies grow to become healthy, normal size infants, delivering a baby prematurely may result in long term or permanent health problems. Thus, it is highly important for mothers to carry their baby to full term. Of course, many factors may cause the onset of premature labor. For example, pregnant mothers with an unusually shaped uterus may experience early labor and delivery. Furthermore, trauma from a car accident or fall may result in early labor. In some instances, physicians can reverse the onset of labor. Certain drugs can be administered to stop contractions. However, if the medication is ineffective, premature delivery is the only option.
Some women are at a higher risk for preterm labor. This includes mothers who have an abnormally shaped uterus, mothers carrying more than one baby, smokers, drug-users, and mothers with a history of preterm labor. Moreover, mothers under the age of 18, and those over the age of 40 are at increased risk for premature labor.
When a baby is delivered early, many parents have the tendency to blame themselves. Often times, mothers feel that emotional or mental stress caused preterm labor. However, physicians and researchers have not found a correlation between stress and early labor. In fact, emotional and mental stress is normal during pregnancy. It is expected for parents to fret excessively or feel mentally drained from all the preparations.
Nonetheless, it has been concluded that certain activities or habits can increase a women’s risk of early labor and delivery. Many times, physicians make lifestyle recommendations for expecting mothers. Sadly, some women fail to heed their doctor’s advice. While it is possible to deliver a healthy, full term baby without adhering to doctor’s orders, the possibility of early delivery intensifies. Expecting mothers can decrease the chances of preterm labor by considering the following tips.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Avoid Cigarette and Illegal Drugs: Many physicians suggest that mothers refrain from taking all medication while carrying a baby, both prescription and over-the-counter. Of course, a few health conditions make it impossible for mothers to completely stop taking their medication. In this case, the mother and baby’s health is closely monitored. With this said, pregnant women must also avoid smoking and using illegal drugs (cocaine, heroine, marijuana, etc.)
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Plan Pregnancies at Least 18 Months Apart: It is understandable that some parents want their children to be close in age. Hence, it is common for some to plan their second pregnancy shortly following the birth of the first child. However, mothers who conceive babies less than 18 months following the birth of another child are at higher risk for preterm labor. If possible, wait at least 1 Ã?Â½ years before having another baby.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Visit the Dentist: As odd as it may sound, there is a strange link between gum disease and premature labor. For that reason, pregnant women should visit their dentist for regular check-ups.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Discuss Workout and Daily Activities with Doctor: Although moderate exercise is recommended during pregnancy, women with an increased risk for premature labor should closely adhere to their obstetrician’s suggestions. For example, if bed rest is ordered, cooperation is critical to the baby’s health. Even if an expecting mother is able to continue working outside the home and exercise during the pregnancy, moderation is important. Thus, avoid too much exertion or participating in potentially risky activities.