Each year in the U.S., 1 in 10 babies is born preterm. Preterm birth is birth that happens too soon, before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Babies born too early may face life-threatening complications and have lifelong health problems. In honor of World Prematurity Day, we’re raising awareness of this serious health crisis.
We don’t always know what causes prematurity. Even if you do everything right during pregnancy, you can still give birth early. Here some things you can do before and during pregnancy to help reduce your risk for preterm labor and preterm birth:
- Schedule a preconception checkup with your healthcare provider to make sure your body is ready for pregnancy. Get to a healthy weight before pregnancy. And get treatment for medical conditions, like high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and thyroid problems.
- Wait at least 18 months between giving birth and getting pregnant again. Use birth control until you’re ready to get pregnant again.
- Protect yourself from infections. Get vaccinated, wash your hands often, and don’t eat raw meat, fish, or eggs. Have safe sex to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections.
- Eat healthy foods and do something active every day. This can help reduce stress and help you gain the right amount of weight during pregnancy.
- Don’t smoke, drink alcohol, or use harmful drugs. Ask your provider about programs that can help you quit. Tell your provider about any medicines you take, with or without a prescription.
- Go to all your prenatal care checkups, even if you’re feeling fine. Prenatal care helps your provider make sure you and your baby are healthy.
- Learn the signs and symptoms of preterm labor and what to do if you have even one. This won’t reduce your risk of preterm labor, but it can give you time to get treatment that may help stop your labor.
There is no single cause of preterm birth and no simple solution. March of Dimes is leading the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We’re advocating for policies to protect them. We’re working to find solutions and improve the care they receive.
Help raise awareness and join us to improve maternal and infant health by posting messages on social. Visit marchofdimes.org for more ways you can help.