The birth of a child is filled with both excitement and nervousness for moms-to-be.
They may wonder – How will I know I’m in labor? Will I have a long labor? What will my baby look like? – and countless other questions.
But for some mothers, delivery day comes too soon.
In Ohio, 1 in 8 babies are born prematurely. Infants born before 37 weeks gestation are considered preterm, or premature; 40 weeks is considered full-term.
Infants born prematurely are at risk for physical and developmental disabilities and death. Nationwide, prematurity is the leading cause of death for babies and the number one killer of newborns.
Akron Children’s is working to raise awareness about this important issue in conjunction with November’s National Prematurity Prevention Month.
“With any pregnancy, it’s important for women to receive prenatal care and to follow healthy practices such as avoiding alcohol, drugs and tobacco, along with eating a balanced diet. Beyond these basic lifestyle factors, birth spacing is key to reducing premature births,” said Dr. Elena Rossi, a neonatologist and associate chair of pediatrics for Akron Children’s Mahoning Valley.
Birth spacing is the amount of time between one child’s birth and conception of the next child. It takes time for a woman’s body to recover after birth and to rebuild nutrients needed for subsequent pregnancies. Having children’s births close together increases the risk of prematurity.
Besides birth spacing, if a woman has had a premature baby in the past, she has a greater chance for delivering another child before the infant is full-term. In these situations, a woman may benefit from treatment options, such as progesterone therapy, which can help lower her risk of preterm birth.
Are you at risk for having a premature baby?
You are, if you:
- Have already given birth to a baby more than 3 weeks early
- Become pregnant and it’s been less than 18 months since your last baby was born
- Are not seeing a doctor for pregnancy care
- Have used alcohol, tobacco or drugs while pregnant
- Have certain health conditions
If you have any questions about preterm birth, talk to your healthcare provider today about how to prevent early birth and have a healthy baby.