Steps you can take to prevent another premature birth

Lower your chances of having another preterm baby when you follow the expert’s guidelines on ways to reduce the risk.

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It’s tough when you want another baby after delivering a preemie. Besides having to factor in the financial costs, you want to take steps to ensure that your next bundle will not be born too soon again.

SmartParents expert and Gleneagles Hospital’s consultant ob-gyn, Dr Christopher Chong advises that you wait for up to a year before getting pregnant again.

“The first six months will be for breastfeeding and for the C-section wound to heal. The other six months for your body to rebuild its resistance and health, especially after childbirth and managing the task of looking after your newborn.”

If your C-section wound isn’t healing well, Dr Chong cautions that there is a high risk of a uterine rupture, which can be fatal for both mother and baby. Dr Chong has tips on how to stop history from repeating itself…

If your C-section wound isn’t healing well, Dr Chong cautions that there is a high risk of a uterine rupture, which can be fatal for both mother and baby.

Before your second pregnancy…

1) Find out what caused your premature labour

If something caused you to deliver prematurely, then your second pregnancy is likely to end the same way. Dr Chong highlights the most common causes for your preterm labour:

* Uncontrolled high blood pressure.

* An incompetent cervix.

* Womb abnormalities.

2) Get the right medication to treat the problem

Progesterone medication and injections help to reduce your risk of a premature birth, especially when your body is lacking this vital pregnancy hormone. Aspirin can be used to if you have a history of high blood pressure and placental separation.

3) Use contraception

Dr Chong explains that your first period after delivery may be erratic but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible for you to get pregnant. You should also note that while you may not have your period while you’re breastfeeding, your body is still ovulating. So, using contraceptives allows your body to heal even as the prescribed treatments help to increase your chances of a full-term pregnancy.

 

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During your second pregnancy…

4) Visit your gynae if you suspect that you are pregnant again

Needless to say, the progress of your second pregnancy should be closely monitored by your ob-gyn to avoid a repeat of preterm labour.

Dr Chong advises that you see your gynae as soon as you think you may be pregnant. “This will allow you to get things right from the start ― get the necessary supplements, surgical and nutritional guidance.”

Your physician’s close supervision will ensure that your foetus gets the best possible care to prevent any unforeseen complications. If another preterm birth is unavoidable, you can take preventive steps, so as to give your baby the best chance of survival. For instance, steroid jabs can be given in the third trimester to speed up the maturity of your baby’s lungs, says Dr Chong.

You should avoid doing any strenuous work or activities and prioritise lots of bed rest, especially during your last trimester.

5) Load up on folic acid supplements

Folic acid has been proven to reduce the chances of conditions like placental abruptions and preeclampsia that could threaten your pregnancy. Dr Chong states that folic acid is also a haematinic — a vital nutrient required in the production of blood cells in the bone marrow. Taking this will reduce your risk of anaemia, which could derail your pregnancy.

6) Mind your oral hygiene

Dr Chong cautions that minor infections of the gum can trigger premature birth. In fact, you should seek treatment for any form of infection as soon as possible to prevent any complications, which could trigger preterm labour.

7) Watch your weight

The digits on your weighing machine have a huge impact on your likelihood of experiencing preterm labour. Being overweight increases your blood pressure, which can threaten your pregnancy. Similarly, Dr Chong says severely underweight mothers are at risk of premature delivery because they are suffering from malnutrition.

8) Reduce stress

Stress is one of the major causes of a preterm baby. Dr Chong explains that it is vital to take steps to reduce stress throughout your pregnancy. You should avoid doing any strenuous work or activities and prioritise lots of bed rest, especially during your last trimester.

Photos: iStock

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