Advice Column, Health, Parenting, Pregnancy, Pregnancy & Baby, Recently

Preterm Birth Awareness: Supporting Healthier Beginnings

  • Category Advice Column, Health, Parenting, Pregnancy, Pregnancy & Baby, Recently

A full-term pregnancy is best for your baby’s health. Full-term pregnancies usually last approximately 40 weeks. Preterm birth is defined as one where a baby is born too early before 37 weeks of pregnancy have been completed. Babies who are born early may suffer from long-term health issues that could include e.g. cerebral palsy, mental retardation, visual and hearing impairments, and general poor health and growth problems. In 2021, preterm births were recorded in approximately 1 of every 10 infants born in the United States. The preterm birth rate rose 4% in 2021, from 10.1% in 2020 to 10.5% in 2021.

Causes of premature birth

There are factors that may increase the risk of premature birth, such as an infection or placental problems, but the exact causes remain unknown. Some risk factors for preterm birth include being pregnant with multiple babies, clinical uterus or cervix problems (whether current or historical), tobacco or substance abuse, and closely spaced pregnancies (less than 18 months). However, most premature births occur with a natural frequency and doctors have little idea as to the reason why.

Is it possible for preterm labor to stop by its own accord?

For about 3 in 10 women, preterm labour stops on its own. If it doesn’t stop, then medication or treatment may be given to try delaying the birth.

Current data suggest that in the United States, the preterm birth rate has increased to more than 10.5%.  This rate is higher than in any other developed country where this rate compares to 7.4% in England and Wales, 6% in France, and 5.8% in Sweden. There is a general global increase in the rate of preterm births.

What are the signs of preterm birth?

Mild cramps (period cramps), pressure in the belly or pelvis, low and dull backache, contractions where the muscles in the belly tighten every 10 minutes or less, vaginal spotting or bleeding, changes in vaginal discharge, water breaks.

We cannot always prevent preterm birth’s. However, you can lower the risk by following this advice.

  • See your doctor early and regularly in your pregnancy for prenatal care.
  • Take care of any health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, or depression.
  • Don’t smoke, drink, or use illegal drugs.
  • Eat a diet that includes a variety of healthy foods especially foods rich in iron and folic acid.
  • Gain a healthy amount of weight (not too much or too little).
  • Protect yourself from infections (wash your hands well; don’t eat raw meat, fish, or unpasteurized cheese; use condoms when having sex; limit domestic pet chores such as changing cat litter).
  • Reduce stress in your life, try yoga, meditation, being active, joining support groups.
  • Be active every day. Try to get 30 minutes of exercise daily

South Africa has experienced an increase in early delivery of baby’s post COVID-19. This is confirmed by a preterm birth rate of 11%.

CryoSave South Africa urges mothers-to-be to take good care of yourself and your baby during pregnancy. If you are determined to bank your baby’s cord blood to ensure future stem cell health insurance possibilities, talk to your healthcare provider early in your pregnancy. This will enable you to prepare and review your stem cell storage options. Preterm babies need extra oxygen and help from machines to help them breathe which can damage their lungs. A life-saving treatment using stem cell from the umbilical cord should soon be available.


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