Preventing Pre Term Birth

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What you need to know

High-risk pregnancy

Pregnancies with a higher chance of complications are called "high-risk." But this doesn't mean there will be problems. These reasons may raise the risk level during pregnancy.

  • Teen mom or the woman is older than 35
  • Overweight or underweight
  • Problems in an earlier pregnancy
  • Health issues you have before you become pregnant, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, cancer, or HIV
  • Pregnancy with twins or other multiples

Women with a high-risk pregnancy need prenatal care more often and sometimes from a specially trained doctor called a maternal-fetal medicine expert.  If your pregnancy is believed to be high risk, ask your doctor to explain your risks and the chances of a real problem so you can avoid unnecessary worry and enjoy your pregnancy.  Also, be sure to follow your doctor's advice.  You will feel better knowing that you are doing all you can to care for your baby.

Managing discomforts of pregnancy

All women have aches and body changes as the baby grows. Common problems are back and pelvis pain, swelling, pinched nerves, heartburn, sleepless nights, always tired, and going to the bathroom a lot. See Body changes and discomforts (the Office on Women's Health) to learn more about the changes and discomforts that pregnant women go through, and what you can do to feel better. Health Information Translations has topics on Concerns and Discomforts of Pregnancy in English and translated into several languages. 

Pre-term labor and early birth

A full term pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, starting from the first day of your last normal period.  Sometimes labor begins before the baby's due date. 

Pre-term labor or early labor, is when your body starts the birthing process before 37 weeks of pregnancy.  Babies born early are more likely to have health problems. You can learn the Signs of Early Labor at CDC's Frequently Asked Questions: for Women and Their Families.  If you have signs of early labor, call your doctor. Signs of Labor is available by Health Information Translations in English and several languages.

Preterm birth is when a baby is born too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy has been completed. In 2016, preterm birth affected about 1 of every 10 infants born in the United States.  Early birth is the leading cause of long-term neurological disabilities in children.  

Racial and ethnic disparities also exist

March of Dimes states that in 2013, the early birth rate for African American infants was 60% higher than non-Hispanic white infants and 44% higher than Hispanic infants. Almost one out of four (23.2%) Hispanic women will deliver prematurely. The low birth weight for African American infants was nearly twice that of white infants (7%) and Hispanic infants (7.1%).  

Many issues can be linked with early birth like wages, race and ethnicity, illness, spacing between babies, stress, smoking, drinking and drug use. To know more, see CDC's Infographic Factors Associated with Preterm Birth.

Preventing premature birth

A baby grows throughout the whole pregnancy – even the final months and weeks. The brain, lungs, and liver need the final weeks to fully grow. Even though you may be uncomfortable, don't rush it with an early induction of labor. Learn more by reading:

Nebraska resources

Connected Forever is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization serving Nebraska families. The mission is to support families who endure a NICU stay, pregnancy loss, or infant loss through resources, education, and emotional support. There are several programs offered to support the needs of the families served. Website: www.connected​4ever.org.