Studies have indicated that 13 percent of all births occurring in India every year are premature cases. Premature birth is also the leading cause for neonatal death in the first month of life. While this statistic can seem scary, it is important to realize that a preterm delivery is a possibility, and not an eventuality. Learning as much as you can about premature delivery, its causes and methods of prevention, is the first step towards ensuring that your pregnancy goes smoothly.
Understanding premature delivery
Premature birth occurs when the baby arrives before the complete term of pregnancy, i.e. between 39 weeks to 40 weeks in the womb. When a baby is born before the completion of a full-term pregnancy, the time required for the baby to develop in the womb is considerably reduced. This can result in both short-term and long-term health problems, like development delays, chronic lung disease and cerebral palsy.
What causes premature delivery?
Preterm delivery can be caused by a wide range of problems that can affect you, your baby, or both. In most cases, the exact cause of a premature delivery is not clear, but medical research into the matter has indicated that a number of factors can play a role in triggering premature labour. These can include:
- Smoking, alcohol and drug use.
- Short intervals of less than 6 months between pregnancies.
- Uterine and vaginal infections.
- Having had a previous premature birth
- Pregnancy with twins, triplets or other multiples
- Poor nutrition
- Not gaining enough weight during your pregnancy
- Chronic medical conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes
- Multiple miscarriages or abortions in the past
- Certain infections, particularly of the amniotic fluid or lower genital tract.
- Conceiving through vitro fertilization.
- Structural anomalies of the uterus and/or the cervix.
- Gum infections
- Excessive stress levels
- Occupational factors like extreme physical stress.
- Maternal age being below 17 years or above 35 years.
What can you do to reduce the chances of a premature delivery?
When you’re pregnant, it is only natural to worry about having a Premature delivery. There may be certain risk factors such as diabetes or preeclampsia that may lead to a high-risk pregnancy. However, there are additional ways that can reduce your odds of a premature delivery. This includes change in habits, eating a healthy diet or managing your conditions. It is advisable to often monitor your pregnancy and get early prenatal care for a healthy pregnancy. Apollo Cradle’s experts provide the support and care to help you reduce your risk of premature delivery.
- See your doctor regularly: When you get pregnant, it is essential that you make sure that you start your prenatal care early, and be regular with your appointments. This will help your doctor diagnose any potential problems early, and give you the right treatment to ensure that you have a healthy and stress-free pregnancy.
Your doctor will also advise you on how to eat right and gain the right amount of weight throughout your pregnancy, and also screen you for any potential infections that can threaten your pregnancy. You must also be regular about the prenatal vitamins that will be prescribed, as it contains folic acid, which is essential for a healthy pregnancy.
- Inform your doctor about any complications – Factors like a previous case of early delivery, high blood pressure or diabetes, having a uterine infection during pregnancy, pregnancy at 35 years or older, pregnancy complications like preeclampsia or being over- or underweight can all cause a premature delivery. If you suffer from any of these factors, inform your doctor immediately. Your medical advisor will immediately chart out a plan to minimise these risk factors.
- Get all your tests done – Research suggests that uterine infections are one of the leading causes of preterm birth. Vaginal bacterial infections, as well as sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia, other infections like bacterial vaginosis (BV) and untreated urinary tract infections can cause preterm birth. Recognising and treating these infections on time can substantially reduce the chances of having a premature delivery. Thus, it is essential that you go in for regular screenings, to increase your chances of having a healthy baby.
- Visit the dentist – While this may seem unrelated to your pregnancy, regular cleanings can help to prevent preterm delivery. Medical research has indicated that the complications caused by a uterine infection can also occur if you have a dental condition such as a periodontal (gum) disease. Getting regular deep cleaning by a dentist, above and below the gum line, followed by regular dental care, can be your first line of defence against premature delivery.
- Monitor your weight properly – Gaining too much weight during your pregnancy can lead to complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Being underweight during your pregnancy can also be a cause of concern, as studies have shown that underweight women are less likely to carry their baby for a full term. This is because you can face nutritional deficiencies that can affect your baby.
It is important that you eat right and exercise regularly as advised by your doctor. A nutritious diet during pregnancy, which includes whole-wheat carbs and a lot of fruits and vegetables, can help you keep yourself fit, and your baby healthy. Regular exercise, on the other hand, can reduce the chances of developing gestational diabetes, and can also help to prevent preeclampsia. Exercise can also help you relax, and reduce chronic stress. It is important that you discuss your exercise regime with your doctor before pregnancy-safe activities.
- Control your lifestyle decisions – Completely avoid smoking, drinking or recreational drugs, as these can lead to premature labour. Check all the medications that you are taking, which were prescribed before your pregnancy. Make a list of these, and inform your doctor about them immediately. Your doctor will be able to tell you if these can have an adverse effect on your pregnancy or not.
- Keep an eye out for the signs – Know the signs of preterm labour. While there isn’t much that can be done once you go into labour, doctors can delay the delivery by a few days, and begin critical treatment procedures for you and your baby. Signs of labour include contractions that occur every ten minutes or so, fluid leaking from your vagina, pelvic pressure, lower back pain, menstrual-like cramps and abdominal cramps that begin at the back and move to the front.
It should be noted that most cases involving preterm labour do not result in a delivery. In case your delivery is preterm, medical advances across the board help to ensure that your premature baby gets the care he/she needs. Medical experts in India like Apollo Cradle have years of experience and the latest technology to help ensure that your pregnancy goes as smoothly as possible. Our specialized experts in Obstetrics, Gynecology, Prenatal & Postnatal Fitness, Diet & Nutrition ensure that you and your baby are always In Safe Hands.