It’s never too soon to avoid the risks of preterm birth.
1 out every 10 babies born in America was a premature birth.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of preterm births among African American women is nearly twice as high as the rate among white and Hispanic women. The earlier a baby is born, the higher the risk of short and long-term health problems, such as breathing issues, low blood pressure, cerebral palsy and vision problem.
Eating for Two…Or More
One of the best ways to prevent premature birth is by following a healthy diet. “In addition to taking your prenatal vitamins, which have plenty of folic acid to prevent birth defects, you also want to eat a balanced diet from every food group, with protein and carbs,” says Dr. Simi Suri, OB/GYN, a specialist in high-risk pregnancies at White Plains Hospital. “Pregnancy is not the time to be on keto or another trendy, restrictive diet.”
Carry That Weight
Being underweight or obese increases premature birth risk, so it is important for an expectant mother to have a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI), explains Dr. Suri. A low BMI could mean that poor nutrition is keeping a baby from getting the nutrients and minerals needed to sustain its development and proper delivery. Having a high BMI during pregnancy increases the risk of complications during pregnancy such as diabetes, high blood pressure and the risk of miscarriage. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends a weight gain of about 25 to 35 pounds
Stay Ahead of Infections
Reoccurring infections such as kidney, urinary tract, kidney, vaginal infections (including those caused by sexually transmitted diseases) can add to the risk of babies being born prematurely. “During prenatal visits, doctors will take urine samples and cultures to monitor for infections, since not all will produce noticeable symptoms,” says Dr. Suri. A fetal fibronectin swab may be performed to detect for protein in vaginal secretions for women who show signs or symptoms of preterm labor. A positive result indicates a disruption between the outermost membrane of the embryo and the uterus, possibly from infection., which indicates an increased risk of early birth.
Watch Out for Gingivitis
Studies have shown that nearly 60 to 75% of pregnant women have gingivitis, an early stage of periodontal disease linked to premature labor. It is believed that oral pathogens travel through the body to the uterus, causing a response that can trigger a premature birth. “It’s best to avoid dental work during pregnancy, especially if you have gum problems,” says Dr. Suri. “You don’t want to risk stirring up bacteria that might find its way to your baby triggering early labor.”
If you are pregnant – or planning to get pregnant – you can increase your chances of having a positive pregnancy experience by practicing wellness and awareness, which will keep you on track for a safe and healthy delivery.
Dr. Simi Suri is an OB/GYN who specializes in women’s healthcare, including high-risk obstetrics and gynecology, with offices in White Plains and Armonk. To make an appointment in White Plains, call (914) 328-8444, and in Armonk at (914) 849-7900.