Pregnancy 101: Preventing Preterm Pregnancies

Nearly a half million American babies, that's one in eight, are born too soon. Those babies have a higher chance of illness and death. In this Pregnancy 101 Report, find out about some lifestyle changes expectant moms can make to increase their chances of having a full-term pregnancy.

Lisa Mac has no problem working now. But that wasn't the case during her second pregnancy.

"I was swelling a lot," she said. "Um, it was hard for me to walk; get out bed."

Her doctor put her on bed rest to make sure baby didn't arrive too soon.

Dr. Sarah Gernhart said, "Some of the complications of pre-maturity would be the lungs not being ready to breathe outside, there can be problems with brain development."

Dr. Gernhart says moms can increase their chances of having a full-term birth.

"First of all make sure that they seek early prenatal care because that has been one of the things that has shown to greatly decrease the risk or pre-term birth, " said Dr. Gernhart.

Even what you eat can determine whether you carry to full term so doctors recommend good nutrition. Not only during pregnancy but once you begin planning to get pregnant.

Maintaining a healthy weight is also important. Obese and underweight moms have a higher risk of delivering early. But Dr. Gernhart says the biggest challenge and risk factor for moms is smoking.

"If you're a smoker, the baby is at risk to be sick and also an increased risk of sudden infant death," added Gernhart.

Four years later, Lisa is still thankful she put her son's health first.

Drug and alcohol abuse are also major factors in pre-term births. And while exercise is good during pregnancy, overdoing it can also put you at risk for delivering before 37 weeks. That's why it's a good idea to talk over your workout routine with your doctor.

About the Author...
Serese Cole
Serese is no stranger to the Midwest. She was born and raised in Kansas City and after years of moving from state to state - has called Nebraska home the last decade.
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