No one knows for sure what causes premature birth. Even if you do everything right, you can still give birth early. Women who have had a premature birth in the past are at increased risk of having a premature birth in another pregnancy. If you’ve given birth early, here are some things you can do to help reduce your risk for premature birth in your next pregnancy:
Wait 18 months between giving birth and getting pregnant again.
Waiting at least 18 months between pregnancies gives your body time to recover from one pregnancy so it’s ready for the next one. Use birth control so you don’t get pregnant again too soon. Talk to your health care provider about the best birth control option for you.
Get a preconception checkup.
This is a medical checkup you get before pregnancy to make sure you’re healthy when you get pregnant. Being as healthy as possible when you get pregnant can help you have a healthy, full-term pregnancy. At your preconception checkup you and your provider can talk about:
- Getting to a healthy weight
- Getting treatment for health conditions, like depression, diabetes or high blood pressure
- Preventing and treating infections
- Reducing stress
Talk to your provider about progesterone shots.
Progesterone is a hormone that helps your uterus grow and keeps it from having contractions. Progesterone shots may help prevent premature birth if both of these describe you:
- You were pregnant before with just one baby and had spontaneous premature birth. Spontaneous premature birth means labor started on its own.
- You’re pregnant with just one baby.
Talk to your provider about your risk for preeclampsia.
If you’re at risk for preeclampsia, your provider may recommend that you take low-dose aspirin (baby aspirin) to help prevent it. Preeclampsia is a kind of high blood pressure some women get after the 20th week of pregnancy or after giving birth. If not treated, it can cause serious problems during pregnancy, including premature birth.
Quit smoking, drinking alcohol and using harmful drugs.
All of these can put your health and your baby’s health at risk and make you more likely to give birth early. Quitting or getting help to quit is the best thing you can do. Talk to your provider about programs that can help you quit.
To learn more about reducing your risk for premature birth, visit: marchofdimes.org