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Prematurity Awareness Month

Prematurity Awareness Month

It’s Prematurity Awareness Month, and a premature birth takes place more than 3 weeks before the expected due date.

Learn the signs and symptoms that you might be going into labor early.

Signs of Premature Labor

 

Some of the greatest risk factors for premature birth are previous premature births, a pregnancy with multiple babies, smoking or drug use, and going less than 6 months between pregnancies.

Risk Factors for Giving Birth Too Early

 

Premature babies can deal with mild symptoms or more serious complications. Some signs include a small size, sharper features from a lack of stored baby fat, low body temp, and trouble breathing or feeding.

Signs of Prematurity

 

Premature babies will likely need longer hospital stays. Your doctor and a specialized team help care for the baby and can explain what’s happening every step of the way.

Hospital Stays for Premature Labor

 

Short-term complications from premature birth can include issues with their lungs, heart, brain, blood, metabolism, and immune system.

Long-term complications from premature birth can include cerebral palsy, chronic health issues, and problems with their learning, vision, hearing, and teeth.

Complications from Premature Birth

 

If you’re at risk of a premature birth, your doctor might have you take progesterone supplements or have a surgical procedure on your cervix. They might also have you avoid vigorous activity or go on bed rest for the end of your pregnancy.

Preventing Premature Labor

Recognizing Early Labor

Recognizing Early Labor

Early labor begins before you’ve finished 37 weeks of pregnancy, and babies born this early can have lifelong or life-threatening health problems.

What Happens

If you go into early labor, you will likely be given meds to delay or stop it. In some cases, it can be delayed long enough to transport you to a hospital that has a . You may also be given medications that can improve the baby’s health if they come early.

Warning Signs

  • Contractions – Your abdomen will tighten like a fist every 10 minutes or more.
  • Change in Vaginal Discharge – You might leak fluid or bleed from your vagina.
  • Pelvic Pressure – This might feel like your baby is pushing down.
  • Cramps – These might feel like your period or like abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea.
  • Backache – You might feel a low, full backache.

What to Do

Call your doctor or go to the hospital right away if you’re going into labor or have any of the warning signs. They may tell you to:

  • Come into the office or go to the hospital for a checkup
  • Stop what you’re doing and rest on your side for an hour
  • Drink 2 to 3 glasses of water or juice

If your symptoms get worse or do not go away after an hour, call your doctor back or go to the hospital. If the symptoms improve, relax for the rest of the day.

Pregnancy Health Problems

Pregnancy Health Problems

If you have a preexisiting health problem or develop a new one during your pregnancy, you may need more care. Pregnancy health problems that can occur include:

Blood Pressure Related Conditions

While your blood pressure is always an important part of your overall health, when you’re pregnant, it becomes even more important to monitor it. High blood pressure can constrict the blood vessels in your uterus that supply your baby with oxygen and nutrients.

Chronic Hypertension

This is high blood pressure before you become pregnant. If you have it, it won’t go away after you deliver.

There are usually no signs, the only way to diagnose it is with blood pressure monitoring.

Your doctor may prescribe medication or liestyle changes. If you’re already on hypertension meds, talk to your doctor before trying to conceive. ACE inhibitors, a common kind of blood pressure meds, can be bad for your baby.

Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension (PIH)

Some women develop high blood pressure about 20 weeks into their pregnancy. PIH will usually go away after you deliver.

There are usually no signs, the only way to diagnose it is with blood pressure monitoring.

PIH can be controlled with meds during pregnancy.

Preeclampsia

This is high blood pressure and protein in your urine that usually develops after 30 weeks. 25% of women who have PIH develop this too.

There are usually no signs, the only way to diagnose it is with blood pressure monitoring.

Preeclampsia can be controlled with meds during pregnancy.

HELLP syndrome

This is a variation of preeclampsia that’s diagnosed by blood tests. It stands for the conditions you develop:

  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Low platelets

Most women with HELLP have high blood pressure, and other symptoms include fatigue, severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, and swelling.

The only treatment is to deliver your baby. HELLP is very serious and requires care from a doctor.

Gestational Diabetes

Even if you don’t have diabetes before you get pregnant, you can develop gestational diabetes. It will go away after you have your baby, but during your pregnancy, you may be required to follow a special diet, exercise, or take insulin.

Environmental Risk

Certain substances can be harmful to your baby, raising the risk of birth defects and miscarriage. Chemicals to avoid include:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Lead in water or paint
  • Some cleaners
  • Pesticides
  • Mercury in tuna and other fish
  • Cat litter boxes

Talk to your doctor about how to avoid these chemicals and what to do if you come in contact with any of them.

Chicken Pox

While most women are immune if they’ve had chicken pox or the vaccine before, it can be dangerous if you catch it while pregnant. Tell your doctor right away if you come in contact with someone who has it or if you believe you have it.

HIV/AIDS

You can pass HIV/AIDS to your baby during pregnancy, labor, or delivery if you already have it. You can take meds to protect your baby during your pregnancy, just talk to your doctor about it.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

If you have an STI, it can cause your baby to be born blind, deaf, or even stillborn. Medication can usually help protect your baby during pregnancy and delivery. Tell your doctor right away if you have an STI or develop one while you are pregnant.