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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