Information on reducing the risk of Preterm Labour.

What is Preterm Labour?

Preterm labour is labour that begins before 37 weeks gestation. Labour is the process your  body goes through when you give birth to your baby. Preterm labour can lead to the premature birth of your baby. Premature Birth is when you give birth to your baby before 37 weeks of  pregnancy. Every baby needs about 40 weeks in the womb to grow and develop before their  birth. Premature babies can have serious health problems at birth and during their life. [1]


One of the best ways to reduce the risks of Preterm Labour, is by knowing the risks  and what you can do to help reduce the risks associated with Preterm Labour and Premature Birth.

What are the risk factors for Preterm Birth?

Smoking, drinking alcohol,  illicit drugs and abusing prescription medications


• Having a high level of stress in your life

• Being underweight or over weight before pregnancy

• Having a family history of preterm births and premature labour

•Getting pregnant too soon after having a baby. For most women it is best to wait at least 18 months before getting pregnant   again. Talk to your provider about the right amount of time for you. 

•Preterm premature rupture of the membranes (PPROM) is when the amniotic sac around your baby breaks before 37 weeks  gestation.

•High blood pressure and Preeclampsia (Preeclampsia is when a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure and protein  in the urine after the 20th week of pregnancy) [2]

•Thrombophilia (Thrombophilia is a term used to describe a group of conditions in which there is an increased tendency, often  repeated and over an extended period, for excessive clotting.) [3]

• Diabetes

•Incompetent cervix (incompetent is abnormally weak, and therefore it can gradually widen during pregnancy. Left untreated,  this can result in repeated pregnancy losses or premature delivery.) [4]

•Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) has been defined as the rate of fetal growth that is below normal in light of the growth  potential of a specific infant as per the race and gender of the fetus)  [5]







We know some risk factors may increase your risk,  making you more likely to go into preterm labour and  have a premature baby. 

Having a risk factor does not mean you will go into preterm 

labour. 

How you can reduce the risks.

Yes, you can help to reduce the risk factors of Preterm birth. There are some risk factors you are unable to change like having a premature birth in a previous pregnancy or yourself being born prematurely.


• Go to your first prenatal appointment as soon as you have confirmed your pregnancy. Ensure you attend all your appointments and tests during your pregnancy. Prenatal appointments are to ensure you and your baby are healthy.


• Reduce your stress. Eat a healthy diet and be active every day.

• Ask family and friends for help to care for other children if needed. 

• Protect your self from infections. Talk to your provider about immunisations to protect you and your baby. 

• Get treatment for chronic medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, migraines and depression. If you are concerned about any medical conditions you have speak with your doctor about the best treatment for you during your pregnancy. [6]

• Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or take illicit drugs during your pregnancy. If you need help in reducing or quitting speak to your provider about programs to help support, you. 

• Talk to your provider about your weight. Ask how much weight you should be gaining during pregnancy and express any concerns you may have. 

• Monitor your baby’s movements. You are the best advocate for your baby. If you notice a change in your baby’s movements, contact your provider immediately. A baby’s movements won’t slow down towards the end of pregnancy. Get to know your baby’s own individual pattern of movement, you will then be able to report any irregularities or changes straight away.  [7]


• Learn signs and symptoms early of preterm labour so you can get help quickly if you need to. 

Who is at risk of Preterm Labour?

Premature birth can happen to any pregnant women. 

1 in 10 babies in Australia are born Premature
If you have previously had a baby born prematurely, you’re  pregnant with multiples (twins, triplets or more) and/or you  have problems with your uterus or cervix now or in the past you are most likely to have preterm labour and give birth to your  baby prematurely. 

Who can I go to for more support?

If you are concerned about delivering your baby preterm speak with your Doctor, Midwife, and healthcare providers. 

You can also speak with a registered nurse by calling Healthcare Direct on 1800 022 222. 

[1] the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, viewed 29th Nov 2017,
<https://acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Preterm-Premature-Labour-and-Birth>
[2] Medline Plus, viewed 29th Nov 2017, <http://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000898.htm>
[3] Indiana Hemophilia and Thrombophilia Center INC, viewed 29th Nov 2017,
<http://www.ihtc.org/medical-professionals/blood-disorders/clotting-disorders/thrombophilia-overview/>
[4] Mayo Clinic,  viewed 29th Nov 2017, <http://mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/incompetent-cervix/basics/definition/con-20035375>
[5] Journal of Neonatal Biology,  viewed 29th Nov 2017, 
<https://omicsonline.org/open-access/postnatal-complications-of-intrauterine-growth-restriction-2167-0897-1000232.pdf>
[6] March of Dimes, Viewed 30/11/2017, <http://marchofdimes.org/complications/preterm-labour-and-premature-baby.aspx>
[7] Count the Kicks,  viewed 29th Nov 2017, <http://countthekicks.org/faq/>