The Facts On Preterm Birth

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What every mom needs to know about staying pregnant until full term

Preterm birth is more common than you may think. The goal of a healthy pregnancy is to deliver a baby at 40 weeks of pregnancy. Preterm birth is the delivery of a baby between 20 and 37 weeks of pregnancy. Staying pregnant to full term is one of the best ways to give your baby the time needed to grow and develop.

Approximately 400,000 babies are born too early each year in the US. Approximately 1 on 10 babies is born premature. About 1 preterm baby born every minute. It’s important to understand if you are at risk for preterm birth.

Preterm births are unexpected and can happen at any time. Some women have an early delivery due to a medical situation. Other women have a greater chance of having a preterm baby because they have certain risk factors.

Risk factors for preterm birth:

• Prior spontaneous (unexpected) preterm birth before 37 weeks
• Pregnant with twins, triplets, or other multiples
• Problems with the uterus or cervix
• African American heritage

Other risk factors include:

• High blood pressure, stress, diabetes, or being overweight or underweight
• Short time between pregnancies (6–18 months)
• Certain infections during pregnancy such as an infection of the uterus, vagina, or urinary tract infection, or a      sexually transmitted infection
• Smoking, drinking alcohol, or using illegal drugs

The Growth You Can’t See

Your baby needs every week of pregnancy to grow and develop, both inside and out. During your pregnancy, you can see your baby’s growth happening on sonograms and with your growing belly. What you may not know is that your baby continues to grow and develop even in the last few weeks until your due date. Important development is happening inside of baby’s body that you can’t see on a sonogram. This is why staying pregnant to full term helps give your baby a healthy start.

  • Breathing, sucking, and swallowing reflexes are not ready until 34 weeks or later. An early birth may cause feeding and nutrition problems
  • Lungs continue to develop until the end of pregnancy and babies may have trouble breathing if born early
  • Around week 35 the brain is 2/3 the size of a full-term baby’s
  • Hearing is not fully developed until full term
  • Liver is not mature enough to remove bilirubin and prevent jaundice until full term
  • May not have enough body fat to keep temperature steady until week 37

Did You Know?

Babies born early are more likely to be rehospitalized regardless of their birth weight.

Know The Signs & Symptoms Associated With Preterm Labor

Every pregnant woman should be familiar with the signs and symptoms of preterm labor. If you have any of these symptoms before your due date, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible, as you may be experiencing preterm labor, which could result in delivering too early (less than 37 weeks).

  • Contractions or tightening of your belly muscles every 10 minutes or less
  • Belly cramps with or without diarrhea
  • Low, dull back ache
  • Cramps resembling menstrual cramps
  • Feeling of pressure in the pelvic area
  • A change in vaginal discharge

Learn How You Can Lower Your Chances of Preterm Birth

If you are at risk for preterm birth, now is the time to talk with your healthcare provider. Let them know about any questions or concerns you might have. Your healthcare provider can talk with you about ways to lower your risk, including potential treatment options available.

Did You Know?

Staying pregnant to full term is one of the best ways to give your baby the time needed to grow and develop.

Help protect your baby. If you think you may be at risk for preterm birth, talk to your healthcare provider about ways you can reduce your risk, including possible treatment options.

Your baby needs every week of pregnancy to grow and develop, both inside and out

During your pregnancy, you can see your baby’s growth happening on sonograms and with your growing belly. What you may not know is that your baby continues to grow and develop even in the last few weeks until your due date. Important development is happening inside of baby’s body that you can’t see on a sonogram. This is why staying pregnant to full term helps give your baby a healthy start.

  • Breathing, sucking, and swallowing reflexes are not ready until 34 weeks or later. An early birth may cause feeding and nutrition problems
  • Lungs continue to develop until the end of pregnancy and babies may have trouble breathing if born early
  • Around week 35 the brain is 2/3 the size of a full-term baby’s
  • Hearing is not fully developed until full term
  • Liver is not mature enough to remove bilirubin and prevent jaundice until full term
  • May not have enough body fat to keep temperature steady until week 37

Did You Know?

Babies born early are more likely to be rehospitalized regardless of their birth weight.