Can You Prevent Preterm Labor?
Compelling new research says it may be possible. Here, nine surprising ways to help get your baby to term - and to a healthier start in life
Early Prenatal Care
1. Get early prenatal care. One of the best and easiest ways to reduce your risk of preterm labor is to see your health care practitioner as soon as you know you're pregnant or are going to try to get pregnant. Your doctor can advise you on how to eat right and gain the proper amount of weight and screen you for infections that can harm your pregnancy.
Your doctor can also give you a prescription for a prenatal vitamin. Among other essential nutrients, it contains folic acid, a key B vitamin that can prevent neural-tube birth defects like spina bifida (an opening in the spine). The most important time to take folic acid is during the first month of pregnancy -- before a woman misses her period and knows she's pregnant. So it's a good idea to start taking a prenatal vitamin when you decide you're going to try to get pregnant, or to take a daily multivitamin which contains folic acid all the time, since nearly 50 percent of pregnancies are unplanned.
What's more, new research suggests that folic acid may also lower the risk of placental abruption (when the placenta separates from the uterine wall) and preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy), two conditions that are responsible for about 20 percent of early deliveries, according to Charles Lockwood, M.D., chair of the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven.