You’re going to have a baby! Like most expectant mothers, you may be having mixed feelings. You may feel both excited and afraid. This is especially true if you have risk factors for having a preterm (premature) baby. It may also be true if you have no risk factors but are having symptoms of preterm labor or more than a normal amount of contractions. If you find yourself in either of these situations, this booklet was written for you. It will explain:
~ what preterm birth is and why you should try to prevent it
~ risk factors for preterm birth
~ how to prevent or delay preterm birth
Each week that preterm birth is delayed or prevented gives your baby valuable time to grow and mature. That time will increase his chances of being born healthy and can decrease the problems a preterm birth can bring. Following your doctor’s instructions and the guidelines in this booklet may help you delay or prevent a preterm birth.
Taking Part in Your Prenatal Healthcare
No matter how thorough or up-to-date your doctor is, he will not be with you 24 hours a day. If you begin having symptoms of preterm labor, you will be the first to know — if you know what to look for. You are the first person on your healthcare team that can take action. So it is important for you to understand what is happening to your body and to be able to describe warning signs or symptoms to your doctor.
The purpose of this booklet is to help you learn about what happens during pregnancy and preterm birth. With this knowledge, you can become a more active partner in your prenatal care. The information in this booklet will help you know when something isn’t normal and how to deal with problems that can arise. You’ll learn how to tell the difference between the normal aches and pains of pregnancy and signs of trouble for you and your baby. Keep in mind that having a few abnormal symptoms doesn’t mean your pregnancy and your baby are in trouble. However, some symptoms are warning signs, and you should call your doctor as soon as they start. You will also learn the importance of letting your doctor know as soon as symptoms of preterm labor begin before they turn into preterm birth.