Born Too Soon
Prematurity is on the rise. Here's what you can do to help prevent it.
Prevention starts early>The best way to reduce your chances of having a premature baby is to take good care of yourself. “Be in the best possible health before you become pregnant,” Dolan advises. “If possible, have a thorough pre-conception exam and start taking folic acid before you conceive.” She also suggests the following:
- Treat any infections and have chronic medical problems addressed before you get pregnant.
- Be in the best possible physical shape.
- Stay as close as possible to your ideal weight.
- Stop smoking, drinking and using any illicit drugs.
- Familiarize yourself with the signs of premature labor so if you do experience it, you can get help early (see “Signs of Preterm Labor” at right).
Once you’ve taken these steps, try not to worry about delivering prematurely as the odds are in your favor. “Premature labor can happen to anybody,” Dolan says, “but the majority of babies are born healthy.” And right around their due dates, give or take a week or so.