The number of pregnancies ending up in premature deliveries is growing rapidly. According to Dr Rucha Nanavati, Head of Neonatology, KEM hospital, in Municipal Hospitals of Mumbai, around 22 %– 24% women deliver premature babies, which is 10% higher than the last decade. What puts a woman at the risk of delivering prematurely? Dr Sushma Malik, Professor, Incharge Neonatology, Department of Paediatrics, Nair Hospital, Mumbai answers this question by discussing 11 common causes of premature births.
Not Maintaining a Healthy Gap Between Two Pregnancies:
A healthy gap between two pregnancies is at least 18 months. Your body, specifically the uterus, needs time to heal. A pregnancy sooner than that increases chances of delivering prematurely.
IVF (In-vitro Fertilisation):
With an increase in the number of people facing fertility issues and undergoing assisted pregnancies, there has been a significant rise in the birth of premature babies. Because, in-vitro fertilization might lead to multiple pregnancies, which neither healthy for the mother nor for the babies. For example, the ideal weight of an infant should be three kilograms, but if you have triplets, then the individual weight of every child becomes one kg, which in turn is not a healthy weight. Also, multiple fetuses do not get adequate nourishment in the womb, which hampers their immunity.
The right age to get pregnant is between 22 to 30 years of age, says Dr Sushma. Women opting for late pregnancies are at high risk of giving birth to a premature baby. As you age, your body goes through various hormonal changes that lead to a premature delivery and other pregnancy-related complications. To prevent this, make sure you consult a gynaecologist before you plan your pregnancy.
‘It’s not from the time you get pregnant that diet plays a significant role in every woman’s life. If a girl child is born, feed her right from day one so that as she reaches the age of pregnancy, there are no health complications related to lack of proper nutrition,’ suggests Dr Sushma. If your body isn’t strong and healthy enough to sustain a pregnancy, complications are bound to crop up.
Anaemia And Weight Gain:
Did you know that 60 – 70% pregnant women are anaemic? When coupled with increased weight gain during pregnancy, there is a 40% chance that your baby might have a low birth weight. Hence, it is important to monitor your weight every month when pregnant and also take supplements as advised by your doctor, to prevent complications.
Ovulation Inducing Drugs:
Available easily at every drugstore, ovulation-inducing drugs increase the number of eggs released, increase your chance of multiple pregnancies, which are also high-risk pregnancies. And one of the risk factors is premature delivery. Such easily available drugs are surely to be blamed for the increasing number of premature deliveries.
Just like eating a healthy and nutrient-rich diet helps you stay healthy, eating junk and processed food increases your chances of pregnancy-related complications. Because, it is not only loaded with fats, refined sugars and salts, but also deprives you of essential nutrients. This in turn increases your risk of diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases, which are risk factors of premature delivery.
If you are pregnant, then stop drinking alcohol as it hampers the fetal development, that in turn might lead to premature labour. Alcohol, when consumed, passes through the placenta and reaches the infant and hinders the functioning of different organs of the baby that are still in the developmental stages. Here are more reasons why you should avoid alcohol during pregnancy.
When you are stressed, the levels of stress hormones, cortisol, increases, which in turn trigger hunger in the mother. However, the ability of the placenta to transport these nutrients to the fetus is reduced. This leads to low birth weight in the kid and slows fetal development, triggering your risk of preterm labour.
Working night shifts, especially BPOs, causes a shift in your biological clock. It also causes changes in the hormones and when coupled with stress, it further increases your chances of giving birth prematurely.
[ Read: Home Remedies for Stress ]
If The Mother Was Born Prematurely, Her Baby Might Too:
If you were born prematurely, then the chances of your baby being premature is high. And the only way to lower your risk is to eat a healthy diet from day one of pregnancy and being regular with your doctor’s appointment. Every pregnant woman must visit a gynaecologist once a month during the 1st trimester (first three months of pregnancy), every 15 days during the 2nd trimester and once every week during the last three months of pregnancy, says Dr Sushma. Also read about 6 symptoms of preterm labour you should know about.