Understanding Prematurity

Reducing Your Risk

Even if you do everything right, you may still deliver prematurely. But you can reduce your risk by taking good care of yourself before and during pregnancy. If you're planning to get pregnant, see your ob-gyn for a preconception checkup. She can identify health risks that may contribute to preterm labor and make sure chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, are under control. You should also try to reach a healthy weight before becoming pregnant, as women who are either overweight or underweight are more likely to experience preterm labor. Quit smoking now to eliminate any risk to your baby.

If you're already pregnant, keep all of your prenatal appointments so your doctor can detect and treat any problems, such as a urinary-tract infection, that could contribute to preterm labor. Eat a well-balanced diet and gain the recommended amount of weight (25 to 35 pounds for women who begin pregnancy at a normal weight and 15 to 25 pounds for women who are overweight). Women who gain the recommended amount of weight are less likely to have a premature baby.

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