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  • Can Preterm Labor Be Prevented? 5 Self-Care Habits To Reduce The Risk

    These five things can help promote a healthy pregnancy and prevent baby from arriving early.
    by R.M. Mauhay .
Can Preterm Labor Be Prevented? 5 Self-Care Habits To Reduce The Risk
PHOTO BY Shutterstock/ETAJOE
  • Apart from aiming for a normal delivery, most pregnant women want to give birth at full term. That’s at least week 37 of pregnancy up to week 39 and week 40.

    A full-term pregnancy is best for your baby’s health. Despite preparations, however, some babies can still arrive early and unexpectedly due to preterm labor.

    Can preterm labor be prevented?

    Preterm labor is when you go into labor after week 20 of pregnancy and before week 37 (it is called a miscarriage if it happens before that). This results into premature birth wherein babies may be exposed to greater health risks.

    There is no specific and known cause of preterm labor. However, there are risk factors that can contribute to its occurrence. Talk to your doctor about what you can do to help reduce your risk.

    You can also consider starting these five self-care habits that can help promote a healthy pregnancy:

    1. Regular prenatal care

    Prenatal care is essential so that your health and your baby’s health can be monitored. As soon as you confirm pregnancy, it is a must to visit or consult with your doctor regularly, so make sure to discuss any concerns or difficulties with them. (Click here for your prenatal care options during a pandemic)

    2. Have a healthy diet

    Remember that you are nurturing precious life inside you, so make sure to eat a balanced meal and get the right nutrition to keep yourself and your baby healthy. According to What To Expect, pregnant women who eat at least five times a day (three meals and two snacks, or five smaller meals) are less likely to go into preterm labor.

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    Try incorporating snacks like nuts, seeds, fish, and even seed oil into your diet — these are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids that are associated with a lower risk of premature labor and can even boost your brain development. Other studies show that  vitamin C and calcium are also helpful.

    3. Avoid harmful substances

    Kick habits like smoking and drinking alcohol for your baby’s sake. Stay away from smokers to avoid secondhand smoke.

    4. Manage chronic diseases

    Chronic diseases like high-blood pressure, diabetes, and thyroid problems are all risk factors for preterm labor, according to March of Dimes. This is also true if you are obese. Talk to your healthcare provider so you can keep these health conditions under control.

    5. Take care of your mental health

    There are days when pregnancy can be stressful so nourish your mind as much as you nurture your body. Try doing prenatal yoga, meditation, or even a quick break outdoors in the early morning to get much needed sunlight.

    Do any activity that relaxes you and don’t keep thoughts that make you anxious to yourself. Breathe!

    What causes a woman to go into premature labor?

    There are several factors which contribute to the increased possibility of premature labor, including having a premature baby in the past and being pregnant with multiples. Certain conditions can also up your risk:

    Caused by infection

    Infections in the reproductive organs and urinary tract are the most common causes of premature labor. It goes without saying that you should take care of your body not just for yourself but for the life you’ll be carrying inside you to avoid future complications.

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    Having an incompetent cervix

    An incompetent cervix is the condition where your cervix dilates in a premature manner and without any contraction. When your baby grows, gets heavier and presses on the cervix, it can open before the baby is ready to be born.

    Endometriosis

    Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue similar to the tissues lining the endometrium (the inside of your uterus) grows outside your uterus. According to some studies, pregnant women with this condition are at an increased risk for premature birth.

    Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome (APAS)

    APAS is a rare autoimmune disease condition wherein the body treats the fetus as a foreign object and fights it. Reactions include blood clotting which can prevent blood supply to your baby.

    What are the signs of preterm labor?

    Recognizing that you are experiencing preterm labor can help you seek treatment immediately, including being given antibiotics, steroids, and medicine that can slow or stop labor contractions temporarily.

    Call your doctor if you experience the following:

    • Change in vaginal discharge
    • Increased pressure in your pelvis or lower belly (like your baby is pushing down)
    • Back pain (constant and dull)
    • Regular contractions
    • Period-like cramps
    • Your water breaks

    Pregnancy is such a fulfilling journey and yet it is also filled with struggles. Having the right mindset and making an effort to keep yourself and your baby healthy throughout this journey can help increase your chances of a safe and on-time delivery.

    Is your labor taking too long? Click here to know why labor fails to progress into childbirth.

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