Undergoing an early delivery and dealing with a premature baby might have been the hardest time of your life. It might have drained your emotional and physical energy. No wonder your decision to have a second baby worries you considering the chances of undergoing another premature delivery. It is normally seen that a previous premature delivery increases the chances of having another premature birth. But there have been women who have had a premature birth once and go on to have a full term pregnancy and delivery next time.
What Determines The Chances Of Subsequent Preterm Deliveries?
There are mainly two causes that determine the chances of preterm delivery in subsequent pregnancies. Note that, these causes are applicable to spontaneous preterm birth rather than induced labors due to some health issues.
- How early the first delivery was: When a woman delivers during the second trimester of her first pregnancy, the chances of undergoing a premature delivery in a following pregnancy increase by 26% to 40%. When a woman delivers a premature baby during her third trimester, the chances of delivering prematurely during her next pregnancy decrease to 15% to 25%. The chances of another pre term delivery will still decline further if the previous delivery occurred between 32nd and 36th weeks.
- The number of previous preterm births: The risk of preterm birth goes up with the increase in number of previous preterm deliveries. A woman with one previous history of premature delivery has a 15% chance of having a subsequent preterm pregnancy. The chances of the preterm delivery of the next pregnancy goes up by 40% if a woman has had two preterm deliveries before, and the risk increases to a high 70% when a woman has had three premature deliveries. Similarly, the chances of having a preterm delivery decrease if a woman has had normal full term pregnancies earlier.
How Can I Reduce The Risk Of Delivering Prematurely During My Second Pregnancy?
Many of the risk factors which could be responsible for triggering preterm delivery during your first pregnancy can be eliminated, or, at least reduced considerably before you try to conceive the second time. But if a preterm birth is induced due to some medical issues, the risk factors increase instead of decreasing if those issues are incurable.
Before getting worried, consider the bright side of this situation. Increased awareness of the risk of having another premature birth will put you in a better stand to monitor your pregnancy. And take extra care and precaution when you get to the same stage when your previous pre term labor starts. Here are some measure that should be taken before conceiving and which can help to reduce the chances of a preterm delivery after a previous history of a premature birth.
- Consult doctor as soon as possible: Fix an appointment with your doctor as soon as your pregnancy is confirmed. If he knows your previous history, he can make necessary moves (if possible) to ensure a full term pregnancy. For example, suppose your previous pre term birth’s reason was cervical weakness, your doctor will put stitches in your cervix to eliminate the chance of a pre term birth this time.
Other actions that may be initiated by the doctor include:
- Cervical ultra sound can be used for detecting the signs of preterm labor from as early as from the 16th week.
- Examining the blood and vaginal secretions which can be helpful in predicting the risk of preterm labor more efficiently.
- Weekly shots of progesterone hormone are suggested by the doctor as it is found to reduce the risk of preterm labor. Injection is usually started between 16th and 20th weeks of pregnancy and go on until the 37th week of pregnancy.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Being either underweight or overweight increases the risk of a preterm birth during second pregnancy. It is significant to maintain a healthy body weight before conceiving the second time. Try to get an advice of a dietician if needed.
- Maintain a healthy life style: Quitting smoking and drinking alcohol before conception is vital as these are usually associated with preterm birth. Situations of passive smoking (inhaling smokes from other people’s cigarettes should also be avoided.
- Maintain a healthy space between pregnancies: Once your first delivery is preterm, it is very important to maintain at least 18-month space between the pregnancies. The risk of having the second delivery preterm is very high in closely spaced pregnancies.
- Treat and eradicate the infections: Infections such as urinary infections are found have a role in the premature birth. Any infections that affect you should be treated before getting pregnant.
- Manage other health issues: Other health issues such as diabetes, hypertension, thyroid problems, heart and kidney diseases etc. should be managed.
effectively before conceiving for the second time as these conditions increase the risk of preterm delivery
Knowing your chances of running into a preterm birth and accepting the necessary measures to avoid it maximum will help you to carry on a successful full term pregnancy, and, if not, at least, reduce the impact of a pre term delivery.