Updated October 2013
Reducing the risk of premature birth
Some babies simply arrive early without warning, but if you are known to be at risk of preterm birth, the healthcare team will prepare for it and their treatment may include delaying the birth if possible to give your baby more time to develop.
However, if you have certain types of infection or severe pre-eclampsia, or if your baby has a health problem, then the team may actually advise you to have the baby early, by induction or caesarean, if this is the safest option overall.
Using all the information available about your pregnancy, your healthcare team will do its best to reduce your risk of premature birth. There are three main steps that help to minimise the risk factors and health problems of premature labour and preterm birth.
Firstly your risk of having a premature baby is evaluated during pregnancy in order to establish whether any form of treatment is necessary. If you are found to be at risk of preterm birth then your healthcare team may decide that further care is needed which will vary depending on the reason you are considered to be at risk. Lastly and perhaps the best treatment is simply reducing the risk factors of preterm birth. Although reasons for prematurely born babies are still not fully understood, there are numerous things you can do to reduce your risk of prematurity.
The sections below run through risk assessments, treatments, and how to reduce your risk factors of preterm birth in more detail.
In this section
Reducing the risk of premature birth:
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The following organisations can give you more information about the topics covered in this section.