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Premature Birth Information and Prevention

A Full-term Baby is a Strong Baby

Babies born after the 39th week of pregnancy have the best possible start in life!
 

Definitions:

  • 39 weeks of pregnancy is the ideal! 
  • “Full-term” babies are born after 37 weeks of pregnancy
  • “Preterm” babies are born before 37 weeks
 

Why is it important to have a full-term baby?

  • Important organs, like the baby’s brain and lungs, need that time to grow.
  • Babies need to be born at a healthy weight to keep warm. Early babies might be to too small to keep warm.
  • Preterm babies are more likely to have vision and hearing problems, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, breathing problems, and other health issues.  
  • Even “late preterm” babies (born at 34-37 weeks) are at higher risk of health issues than full term babies
 

What can I do to try to have a full-term baby?

  • Start prenatal care with Doctor, Midwife, or Nurse-Practitioner as soon as you know you are pregnant and don’t miss any appointments.
  • Tell your prenatal care provider that you do not want an induction or C-Section prior to 39 weeks of pregnancy unless you or your baby are in danger
  • Eat well-balanced, healthy meals
  • Do not diet or try to lose weight
  • Do not smoke or be around other people who are smoking
  • Do not drink alcohol, including beer and wine
  • Do not take drugs or medicine without talking to your healthcare provider first
  • Take a prenatal vitamin daily
  • Get regular exercise
  • Minimize stress
  • Seek immediate medical care for any infections you might have
  • See a dentist: dental infections can also be a trigger for pre-term birth
  • Know the signs of early labor
 

What can put me at risk of not having a full-term baby?

  • Having had a preterm baby in the past – let your healthcare provider know if you have ever had a baby come early
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs), Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), or dental infections
  • Gaining too little or too much weight while you are pregnant
  • Having babies too close together -  wait at least a year after your last baby was born to become pregnant again - two years is even better
  • Stress
 

You can find more information at the March of Dimes website.