8 things you should do to avoid premature labour
Article by Cherlynn Ng
A premature birth is when your baby is born earlier than 37 weeks, and it’s one of the most common fears among mothers-to-be. While it can be tricky trying to pinpoint the exact reason why some infants are born prematurely, here are some steps that you can take to avoid going through the ordeal.
1. See your doctor early and often
Make an appointment with your doctor as soon as you learn that you are pregnant, so that he can advise you accordingly. You should faithfully attend all prenatal check-ups even if you are feeling fine. Be sure to notify your gynae of any existing health conditions or if you have a history of premature labour to ensure that you and your baby get optimal care.
2. Eat well to maintain a healthy weight
The food you consume has a direct impact on your body and the baby that it’s carrying. A woman of average weight should gain around 12 to 16kg after becoming pregnant. Have a balanced diet, eat in the right amounts and don’t forget to stay hydrated. You need to keep your energy levels up but at the same time, you don’t want to overeat as it can lead to a plethora of health issues and complications such as early labour.
3. Don’t smoke or take drugs
The same theory of ‘you are what you eat’ applies here. Do not smoke or abuse alcohol and drugs for any reason at all. Look into programmes that can help you quit, if needed. Even some painkillers such as ibuprofen are not recommended during pregnancy, so always seek professional advice before self-medicating.
4. Take supplements
You can still fall short on nutrients even with a healthy diet, but prenatal vitamins will help to cover any gaps. Look out for supplements that contain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), iron and calcium as these are crucial to your baby’s development. Besides lowering the risk of birth defects, they also decrease the chances of having a baby who is small for his gestational age. A nutrient deficiency can cause chemical imbalances, thus leading to premature labour, so remember to take your vitamins diligently as prescribed.
5. Stay active
Regular exercise is essential for the well-being of your body and mind. Of course, no one is expecting you to conquer a marathon but even a quick stroll is the great outdoors can be therapeutic. Partake in activities that suit your changing body. Popular exercises include prenatal yoga, swimming and pelvic tilts.
6. Avoid infection
Any infection can be harmful for an expectant mum, as it compromises your immune system and leaves you more vulnerable to health issues. Certain infections also have specific effects on mother and child, which can result in pregnancy complications and premature labour. Some measures you can take include washing your hands often, keeping your environment sanitary and avoiding raw food as they might contain bacteria.
7. Listen to your body
Don’t over-strain or push yourself too hard. You have embarked on a remarkable journey and it’s important that you allow yourself ample time to adjust to this new stage of life. Get adequate rest and be comfortable with asking your loved ones for help around the house. Note that you should wait at least 18 months between giving birth and getting pregnant again.
8. Don’t neglect your mind
Your mental health matters just as much as your physical one, so avoid negativity and indulge in self-care whenever necessary. According to online reports, women who are stressed or depressed seem to be at higher risk of giving birth prematurely. Talk to someone if you are feeling anxious or down — a strong support system goes a long way!
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