Preventing pre-term labour is not as easy as it sounds, as it usually happens due to causes that are not completely understood. However, following some general guidelines for a healthy pregnancy may help prevent pre-term labour and will optimize your fetus’s health and ability to thrive, whether at full term or pre-term.
Being pregnant with twins, triplets, or more puts you at high risk for pre-term labour and infant complications. If you are planning to use assisted reproductive technology to conceive, it is important to talk to your doctor about reducing your risk of conceiving more than one baby.
If You Are At Risk For Pre-Term Labour…
You may be able to help prevent pre-term labour by avoiding activities that can start contractions.
- Avoid using drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamines
- Don’t smoke
- Eat a healthy diet that is low in saturated fat. Use olive or canola oil in place of other fats or oils
- Get lots of whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables, and low-mercury fish and shellfish
If you are experiencing any of the early warning signs and symptoms of pre-term labor, or are at-risk of experiencing pre-term labor, you may be asked to do the following:
Resting on your side is a helpful way to keep your uterus relaxed. And, inclining the bed so that your hips are slightly higher than your head will keep the pressure of the baby off your cervix.
Maintain Adequate Fluid Intake
It is important to drink 6 to 8 glasses of fluid per day or as other wise directed by your Doctor.
You may be asked to take rest periods during the day, or stay in bed all day except for getting up to go to the bathroom and sitting up for meals. Until the recent past, long-term bed rest was commonly used to prevent pre-term labour during pregnancy. However, recent research suggests that strict bed rest for 3 days or more increases your risk of developing a blood clot in the legs or lungs.
Decrease Strenuous Activity
Your doctor may ask you not to do any heavy physical activity such as jogging, running or frequent trips up and down stairs.
Change Work Activities
Work activities may need to be changed or stopped temporarily. Your doctor will tell you about decreasing your activity, if it would be best for you.
Reduce Sexual Activity
Your doctor may ask that you stop or limit your sexual activities as breast stimulation and sex could trigger contractions.
Be Aware Of Your Uterine Activity
Check for the frequency of contractions and watching out for signs and symptoms of pre-term labour.
Before prescribing medicines to delay delivery, Doctors usually weigh the risks of early delivery against the risk of delaying delivery. Depending on the nature of your condition, your doctor may try to delay the birth with tocolytic medication. If your amniotic sac has ruptured, you will have to be treated with antibiotics. Corticosteriod medication could be given to help prepare your baby’s lungs for birth. This treatment is the most effective and least risky intervention available for improving your infant’s chances of surviving a premature birth between 24 and 34 weeks of gestation.
A surgical procedure, cervical cerclage is the placement of stitches in the cervix to hold it closed – and thereby prevent pre-term labour. Cerclage is meant to stop the cervix from opening early, which could lead to miscarriage or pre-term birth. Cerclage has helped some high-risk pregnancies last longer, but it also has risks-it can cause infection or miscarriage. Studies suggest that cerclage makes twin pregnancies more likely to deliver early. Experts do not yet know when cerclage is more likely to work and when it isn’t.
Tips & Tricks
Prunes and dates are known to strengthen the uterus muscles and ease child delivery. They also reduce chances of bleeding that might occur after delivery.
Methi (Fenugreek) induces and eases the child birth during labor by stimulating uterine contractions and reducing the labor pain. However, excess intake during pregnancy could be counter active as it increases the risk of miscarriage as well as premature childbirth.
One of the ways to tell a false labour from a true one is to time the contractions. False labour contractions are irregular and die down with time, while true labour contractions come at regular intervals and are persistent.
Make a checklist of all things you need to take to the hospital and pack them in your bag so that it’s all ready when you need it. Remember to pack the baby’s stuff too like clothes, nappies, blankets, booties and mittens.
To soothe labour pain, place a hot water compress bag (take care not to fill it with boiling water) on the aching areas and massage your back gently.