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Preventing Premature Birth and its Associated Complications

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Preventing premature birth is the key to preventing most cases of bronchopulmonary dysplasia and other complications in newborns.

If you’re thinking of having a baby, there are a few simple measures you can take to reduce the risk of pregnancy problems and pre-term delivery.

Pre-Conceptual Planning:

• If you smoke, quit smoking before you conceive. Smoking can stop you from becoming pregnant and cause congenital abnormalities due to chromosomal damage. If you smoke during pregnancy, it can also cause developmental and respiratory issues in your baby and can contribute to premature birth and life threatening breathing problems. Babies born to mothers who smoke are often smaller and a lower birth weight than babies born to mothers who don’t smoke and they succumb to crib death at greater rates;

• Eat healthily with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and grains;
• Take regular exercise, even if it’s just walking a couple of times a week or going for a swim;
• Stop drinking alcohol prior to conception; and
• Take folic acid and a multi-vitamin supplement at least three months before attempting to get pregnant and for at least the first three months of pregnancy. Getting into good nutritional shape gives your body more of a chance of having a trouble free pregnancy and a healthy baby. A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that pregnant mothers who took multi-vitamins had a 71% decreased risk of pre-eclampsia if they were not obese.

During Pregnancy:

• Take a vitamin C supplement. Another study found that pregnant women who took 100mgs of vitamin C daily during their pregnancy had a 44% decreased risk of premature rupture of the membranes (the waters breaking), which can lead to premature birth;
• Get regular urine checks to test for infection. Vaginal and bladder infections can trigger premature birth in some cases. Infection can be treated and prevented by regular bathing and use of a topical tea tree cream. Tea tree is safe for use during pregnancy. Drinking plenty of water can also prevent infection. You may be offered antibiotics and if the infection is detected during labor, you will be advised to have IV antibiotics;

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.