How can I reduce my chances for premature birth?
Florian Walter, MD, is an obstetrician/gynecologist and chairman of the OB/GYN department at Banner Estrella Medical Center. His office can be reached at (623) 846-7558.
Question: As a first-time mom-to-be, are there things I can do to reduce the chances of premature birth?
Answer: The desire for a problem-free, full-term pregnancy can be a source of anxiety for soon-to-be-moms. Every year in the U.S. approximately 500,000 babies are born weeks, sometimes months, prematurely.
Fortunately, advancements in medicine continue to equip health-care providers to better care for premature babies and mothers. Yet, in most cases, nothing replaces the health and developmental benefits babies receive by remaining in their mother's womb for the full term of the pregnancy.
There are a number of things expectant mothers can do to enhance their chances of a healthy pregnancy. A top priority is getting early and regular prenatal care, especially if you have existing chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. By receiving proper prenatal care, potential problems are often more readily detected and effectively treated.
Also critical is eliminating lifestyle factors that put babies at an increased risk of premature birth, such as smoking, drinking, illegal drugs, stress and working long hours, as well as over- or undereating.
Additionally, listen to your body. By maintaining proper nutrition, receiving regular care and recognizing when something doesn't feel right, you may be able to prevent unnecessary complications and give your baby the best possible start in life.