To help increase your chance of a healthy pregnancy and decrease the risk of premature birth and stillbirth, the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS), an initiative of Seattle Children’s, has compiled a list of recommendations. Please keep in mind that even if every known precaution were followed, there would still be only a small reduction in preterm births. This is why there is a critical need for more research into the causes of prematurity and stillbirth.
Do not smoke during pregnancy. Even if you stop after you learn that you are pregnant, you will improve your chances of your baby having a healthy birth weight and being carried to full term. Contact your healthcare provider or health department for assistance with smoking cessation programs.
If undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF), consult with your physician about transferring only one embryo to avoid multiple fetuses. The more babies you have at one time, the more likely you are to deliver too soon.
Unless medically necessary, do not schedule an elective delivery prior to 39 weeks of gestation.
Seek regular health care early in pregnancy and throughout pregnancy.
If you have had a baby too soon (a preterm birth), there is an increased likelihood you will have another. Make sure you share this information with your healthcare provider. He or she should talk with you about ways to reduce your risk of another preterm birth.
While not very common, some conditions can make you more likely to have your baby too soon. Don’t be afraid to ask your health provider what these conditions are. If you have one of these conditions, like a “short cervix”, your doctor may suggest treatments like progesterone therapy or cervical cerclage to delay the birth of your baby.
Get screened and treated for urinary tract infections (UTIs), HIV, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), as well as conditions like hypertension and diabetes.
Limit caffeine and avoid alcohol and street drugs. Seek help if you take drugs that could harm your baby.
Talk to your healthcare provider about all medications that you take, whether by prescription or over-the-counter.
With your healthcare provider's approval, get regular exercise.
If you've already had a baby, wait at least 18 months before getting pregnant again.
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