Preterm labour can be caused by a multitude of factors, some preventable, or modifiable, while some cannot be changed. You can reduce your risk of giving birth to your baby early by:
What are my risk factors?
Smoking – has been directly linked with preterm birth. The risk has been found to increase the more you smoke. Babies of women who smoke are about 60% more likely to have a preterm baby.
Alcohol – in high levels, alcohol has been found to increase the risk of premature birth. However, alcohol should be avoided in pregnancy. No safe level in pregnancy has been identified. Alcohol has also been linked with abnormalities in babies.
Drugs – Many drugs, both legal and illegal, have been shown to contribute to premature birth. These include caffeine in large amounts, amphetamines, heroin and a variety of over-the-counter and herbal preparations.
Weight – women who are overweight have an increased risk of developing complications of pregnancy. Many of these complications increase the risk of premature delivery of the baby.
Exercise – Regular exercise in pregnancy can help withweight management in pregnancy and preparing for labour and birth. Strenuous exercise or introducing new exercise in pregnancy beyond your pre-pregnancy fitness level can increase your risk of preterm birth.
Infection – Infection in the mother has been linked with preterm labour. In particular, some vaginal, dental and urinary tract infections have been linked to preterm labour.
Stress – high levels of stress increase a woman’s risk of preterm labour.
Work – physically or emotionally demanding work such as working long hours or strenuous activity may increase the risk of preterm labour.
Nutrition – Good nutrition is vital to health of mother and baby. Some dietary components may increase risk of preterm birth. In particular, infections with two types of bacteria are known to cause preterm labour. Listeria can be found in some foods, including raw seafood, soft
cheeses (such as camembert or brie), unpasteurised foods, soft-serve icecream, and precooked foods such as salami or patè. Salmonella can occur in raw eggs and undercooked meats and poultry.
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