Expecting a baby is an exciting time of your life, and you want to make sure that you do as much as you can to make sure your new child is as healthy as possible. Premature birth is something you want to try to avoid or manage as carefully as possible. In many cases the cause is unknown, and according to The World Health Organisation, one in ten babies are born preterm.
A birth is considered premature when a baby is born before the 37th week of pregnancy. The final few weeks in the womb are important to your baby’s full development, so being born prematurely can lead to longer hospital stays, short term, and long term complications.
Why does it happen?
Some of the more common risk factors which contribute to preterm births are having had a premature birth before, you’re pregnant with twins/multiples or you have issues with your uterus or cervix. However, often the cause of preterm birth often can’t be identified.
Your health is also a factor that impacts on your likelihood to have your baby prematurely. Smoking during your pregnancy (which is not recommended), diabetes, high blood pressure (which can develop into preeclampsia) and being over or under weight are all potential premature birth causes.
To try and avoid preterm birth you can talk to your doctor about any existing health issues, such as depression, diabetes or high blood pressure) before getting pregnant – this way you can manage any problems with a treatment plan. Waiting 12 months between pregnancies and eating healthy (making sure that you get the correct prenatal vitamins needed) can also help prevent premature birth.
What if my baby is born preterm?
If your baby is born prematurely they are at risk for long and short term complications. Many preterm babies lead completely healthy lives, however, the more premature and underdeveloped your baby is when they are born, the more likely they are to have issues.
If your baby is born prematurely they may be put into a neonatal intensive care unit into an incubator. Some babies will spend longer in the unit than others, this all depends on when they are able to live without medical support.