Most babies are born healthy at or near their due date. Sometimes, though, babies
are born early and might have health problems.
Why Are Some Babies Born Early?
Babies born before 37 weeks are premature.
A premature birth is more likely to happen when a mother has a health problem —
like diabetes — or does harmful things during her pregnancy, like smoke
or drink. If she lives
with a lot of stress, that also can make her baby be
born too early.
Many things can cause a baby to be born early or with health problems. Some of
these things can be controlled, but others can't.
Here's what you can do to have a healthy pregnancy.
How Can I Stay Healthy During Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, help your baby grow strong and healthy. Be sure to:
care as soon as you think you're pregnant. Prenatal care is the health
care that you get during pregnancy. All pregnant women should see a health care professional
as soon as they think they're pregnant, and should plan regular prenatal visits throughout
Get health problems treated. It's best to have any health problems
depression, or high blood pressure) under control before becoming pregnant. But if
you don't, talk to your doctor right away about a treatment plan.
Eat a healthy
diet. It's important to eat a variety of healthy foods before and during
pregnancy. Take a prenatal vitamin to be sure you're getting enough folic
acid, iron, and other important nutrients.
Gain the right amount of weight. How much weight you should gain
depends on how much you weighed before you were pregnant. Most women who are at a
healthy weight should gain about 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. Overweight women
should probably gain less.
Wait at least 12 months between pregnancies. Increasing the time
between pregnancies may lower the chances of preterm birth, especially if you had
a premature baby before.
Things You Can't Control During Pregnancy
Some things that may increase the chances of a premature birth are out of your
control. This doesn't mean that your baby will be born sick or too early. Remember,
most babies are born healthy.
Here are some things you can't control during pregnancy:
Your age. Mothers who are 17 or younger or 35 or older are more
likely to have a premature baby. Teen moms are more likely to get high blood pressure
during pregnancy and less likely to get the health care they need. Older women are
more likely to have health problems before they get pregnant.
The number of babies (multiples).
The chances of having a premature baby go up if the mother is pregnant with twins,
triplets, or more. More than half of all twins are born early.
Your health. Moms with problems like diabetes, depression, or
high blood pressure may need to see their health care professional more often to keep
these conditions under control.
Problems with an earlier pregnancy. A woman who has had a previous
early delivery, or a baby born with health problems or a birth
defect, is more likely to have problems in future pregnancies too.
Other factors. It's not clear why, but black women are more
likely to have premature babies than white and Hispanic women.
If you're pregnant or are planning to be, talk with your health care professional.
Women who get regular prenatal care are more likely to have a healthier pregnancy