Preterm birth is the spontaneous elimination of the fetus at an age between 28 and 37 weeks and weighing between 1,000 and 2,500 grams. It can be spontaneous or medically induced for various reasons. Every preterm birth is dangerous for both the mother and the baby and may cause real disorders in babies. Even slightly preterm babies face risks.
What causes a preterm birth?
All the factors that may cause the beginning of the preterm labor are not known yet, thus, unfortunately, the lack of information on these factors has limited the doctors’ ability to prevent a preterm birth.
A preterm birth before 34 weeks is caused by premature rupture of membranes, premature onset of labor or pregnancy complications that lead to a premature birth.
The main risk factors that are known are diabetes, hypertension, premature detachment of the placenta, and infections with bacteria.
Factors that are believed to lead to premature birth are split into 2 categories. The first category involves the risk factors deriving from the mother’s lifestyle during her pregnancy, while the second category involves the risk factors deriving from the mother’s medical history.
The factors that cause the premature expulsion of the fetus deriving from the mother’s lifestyle during her pregnancy:
- Age of the mother: under 18, or over 40
- Sex during the last weeks of pregnancy
- Increased level of anxiety
- Consumption of alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs
- Drinking coffee in large quantities, such as 400 mg of caffeine per day
The risk factors deriving from the mother’s medical history:
- Large number of abortions
- Prior preterm births
- Numerous surgeries at the reproductive system level
- Acute infections, such as urinary tract infections, viral hepatitis, acute respiratory infections, or contagious infectious diseases
- Cardiovascular diseases
- High-stress level
- Demanding physical activity
- Performance sport
How to know that the labor has begun before the term?
There are a few signals that show that the labor has begun. Go to a hospital as soon as possible is you’re facing:
- Painful uterine contractions that show rhythmic frequency, duration, and a gradually increasing intensity.
- A slight feeling of perineal pressure due to the baby’s descent.
- Slight pain and burning sensation when urinating.
- Water breaks. Your uterus is draining of amniotic fluid when the membranes are ruptured spontaneously. Also, there may be present a leakage of blood.
Remember that pain and burning sensation when urinating can be signals of urinary infection or kidney stones, so if not associated with other specific labor symptoms, then you might not be at labor.
Preventing a preterm birth
Not all the preterm births cases can be prevented, but it’s good to know how to decrease the risks of having a preterm baby.
- Hydrate well – one of the most important things during a pregnancy.
- Always adopt a healthy and balanced diet during your pregnancy, and regularly control your weight – keep in mind that during pregnancy you should gain between 11 and 17 kg weight.
- Try to avoid stressful situations.
- Reduce the stress level.
- Periodically go for pregnancy controls at your gynecologist cabinet.
- Proper care should be taken in cases of infections.
Even Slightly Preterm Babies Face Risks
Every preterm baby faces some risks. The risks are huge when a preterm baby is born
between the 28th week and the 32nd week, but even slightly preterm babies face risks.
The most common consequences of a preterm birth, which are affecting the baby, are:
- Cerebral palsy
- Hearing loss
- Sight disorders
- Low IQ
- Movement deficits
- Adaptive deficits
- Behavioral problems
- Attention deficit
Slightly preterm babies face risks, such as impaired immune system, hearing loss, underweight, behavioral disorders, attention deficit, or movement deficits.
Methods to stop a preterm birth
To stop a premature labor can be used various types of medications.
Usually, the first step is to convince the mother to rest in bed. Relieving the pressure exerting on the cervix and resting in bed should be sufficient for the things to settle down.
To decrease or prevent uterine contractions some medications can be prescribed. Your doctor will decide which is the best for mother and fetus.
A woman who went into preterm labor can stay at home where it will be monitored by her doctor or can be hospitalized, depending on the age of the fetus and whether the preterm birth is threatening the fetus’s life, or not.
As long as the cervix has not yet dilated and the water has not yet broken (the drainage of the amniotic fluid from the uterus due to the membranes rupture), it is more likely to postpone the pregnancy until the birth term is reached, or at least until any dangerous complication is not anymore possible.
Preterm births are occurring frequently, and preterm babies are usually facing lots of risks and may need special medical care after birth. Even slightly preterm babies face risks, so if this is your case, too, you should ask your baby’s pediatrician doctor or the maternity’s personnel to do a complete set of tests and analysis on your baby, in order to see if your preterm baby is healthy or not.
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