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
A Repeat Occurrance?
8. Talk to your doctor if you've had a prior preterm birth. A recent groundbreaking study found that a progesterone-like hormone reduced the risk of preterm birth by 34 percent in women who had a prior early delivery. "This is the first hint of some effective treatment to prevent preterm labor," according to Paul Meis, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and lead researcher of the study.
It's not clear why the hormone helps, but it may be because it's a muscle relaxant that inhibits contractions and reduces inflammation. Since the drug is widely available, inexpensive, and considered safe for pregnant women, doctors could begin prescribing it now, says Dr. Meis, who uses it in his clinic. If you had a prior preterm birth (there's no evidence that it's effective for other groups), you can discuss these findings with your doctor.
Your doctor may also recommend that you use a condom during sex, since semen contains prostaglandins, the chemicals that initiate contractions. High-risk women may be told to avoid breast or nipple stimulation and having an orgasm, all of which can initiate contractions.