A healthy pregnancy reduces the risk of premature birth which may lead to complications or even death of the baby. Preterm or premature birth is defined as delivery at 37 weeks or before.

Premature birth remains the number one cause of birth defects and newborn death
Premature birth occurs in 8 to 10% of all pregnancies in the United States
Babies have a 17% chance of survival when born at 23 weeks and 50% at 25 weeks

Photo: Clinical Nurse Midwife Tarena Sisk pictured with two babies born at William Newton Hospital

Risk Factors
Previous preterm birth
Pregnancy with twins, triplets or more
Certain uterine or cervical abnormalities or infections
Smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke
Alcohol consumption
Domestic violence
Being underweight before pregnancy
Short time period between pregnancies (less than 6-9 months between birth and the next pregnancy)

Signs and Symptoms of Preterm Labor
Contractions (abdomen tightens like a fist) every 10 minutes or more often
Change in vaginal discharge (leaking fluid or bleeding)
Pelvic pressure (feeling that the baby is pushing down)
Low, dull backache
Cramps that feel like a period
Abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea

   Women in preterm labor are often treated with medications to help stop contractions. Healthcare providers may also recommend restricted activities, bedrest or even hospitalization.

Prevention Measures
Get prenatal medical care at first indication of pregnancy.
Don't consume alcohol.
Don't smoke and avoid second-hand smoke. If you can't stop, try to cut down.
Talk to your healthcare provider about any prescription drugs, herbal supplements or over-the-counter medications you are taking.
Reduce stress - rest and relax when possible.
If you are in an abusive relationship, get help. Abuse often gets worse during pregnancy.
If you feel a burning pain during urination, you may have an infection and need treatment.

WNH Services
Board certified obstetricians
Modern and secure Family Birthing Center
Spacious labor-delivery rooms
Epideral and other pain control options
Prepared childbirth classes
Cesarean section suite

WNH Physicians
Health Professionals by Specialty

March of Dimes
National Institutes of Health