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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How can I prevent premature birth?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • The Small Miracles Foundation is a not for profit organisation which is established for the health and well being of families and to provide free … View Profile

    Some considerations to reduce the risk of a premature birth:

    • Do not smoke.
    • Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs.
    • Limit caffeine intake. This includes coffee and cola drinks.
    • Seek advice from your doctor or midwife before taking any over-the-counter or herbal preparations.
    • Maintain a healthy weight gain during pregnancy. On average, this should be between 10 and 15 kg in total. Avoid rapid weight gain.
    • Eat a well balanced diet, high in fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and cereals. Limit foods high in fat, sugar or salt.
    • Ensure foods are cooked thoroughly, and avoid those that could be contaminated by listeria or salmonella.
    • Exercise regularly but avoid strenuous activity. Activities such as walking, swimming, or pregnancy exercise classes are ideal.
    • Take extra care with personal hygiene.
    • Take time out to relax and reduce stress.
    • Keep antenatal appointments so complications can be identified early.
    • Seek advice to resolve issues causing increased stress levels.
    • Avoid working long hours.
    • Ensure extra rest and stopping work early where you have a pregnancy complication such as multiple pregnancy or low lying placenta.
    • Ensure good dental hygiene and see your dentist during your pregnancy.
    • See your doctor early if unwell or you notice an unusual or odorous vaginal discharge.
    • If you are concerned that you might be in labour well before your due date, seek medical advice early. If you are in labour, early treatment may enable it to be stopped. However, this is less likely once labour has time to become established.

  • Nikki Warren


    Nikki Warren is committed to preconception care, natural fertility, and pregnancy through to postnatal care. Nikki is a degree qualified Naturopath, Medical Herbalist, Doula and … View Profile

    You can prevent a premature birth by looking after your health during the pregnancy - this includes the obvious such as avoiding smoking, eating a diet high in fruit and veg and whole grains, avoiding caffeine etc. 

    What I think is essential in maternity care is the addition of a naturopath to ensure that a woman's nutritional status is adequate.  Midwives and doctors don't receive a lot of training in nutrition or herbal therapy so there is no point in seeking advice from them about which herbs are safe during pregnancy and what doses you should be taking if taking nutritional supplements.  Also, a doctor is likely to recommend supplements which are made by drug companies, e.g. Ferrogradumet for iron deficiency which causes constipation.   I prefer a good quality iron supplement which is absorbed efficiently and doesn't have side effects. 

    I like to check ferritin (iron stores) at the end of each trimester along with vitamin D at the beginning of the pregnancy and again at 28 weeks (depending on what the first result was) and doses are based on these results.

    The minerals calcium and magnesium have been shown to be effective in preventing pre-eclampsia which is one cause of premature birth.  These minerals are also required in high doses during your third trimester - it is almost impossible to obtain the required amount from diet alone.  One sign of deficiency of these minerals is leg cramps during pregnancy.

    In my opinion, a three-way carer relationship between doctor, midwife and naturopath is the way forward for maternity care.  Each health professional has a different skillset which would greatly contribute to a healthy pregnancy and good outcome for the baby.

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