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    Premature Delivery

    What are the Symptoms and Causes of a Premature Delivery & How to Prevent it?

    Written on 22 April 2022

    Premature delivery is a common problem in today’s times. Read on to learn more about its symptoms and causes and how to prevent it.

    Premature delivery is one in which a baby takes birth before the start of the 37th week of pregnancy. Premature babies, who are not fully grown and are delivered, often have complicated medical problems. The earlier your baby is born, the higher the risk of complications. This is because premature babies have very low body temperature and cannot adjust their body temperature to room temperature.

    There are four types of premature deliveries:

    • Late preterm - birth between 34 and 36 weeks of pregnancy.
    • Moderate preterm - birth between 32 and 34 weeks of pregnancy.
    • Very preterm - birth at less than 32 weeks of pregnancy.
    • Extremely preterm - birth before 25 weeks of pregnancy, which is a very rare case.

    Symptoms and signs of a premature delivery include:

    • Regular sensations of tightening in the abdominal region
    • Backache problems
    • Low-level abdominal pressure
    • Light abdominal cramps
    • Vaginal spotting
    • Variation in the quality of vaginal discharge - consisting of water, mucus, or sometimes blood

    If you undergo any such cases as listed above, it is highly recommended that you visit your doctor immediately. Also, a regular check-up with your gynecologist is advisable during pregnancy.

    Complications of premature birth

    • The baby is of small size with a large head.
    • There is fine hair all over the body.
    • The baby’s body temperature is low body due to a lack of stored body fat.
    • The baby is less active and has slow growth.
    • The baby has trouble breathing due to an immature respiratory system.
    • The baby might have heart problems and low blood pressure.
    • The baby cannot easily suck or swallow, leading to difficulty in feeding.

    Causes of premature delivery

    1. If you have a craving for a particular food, have it in small quantities. Excessive intake of any food can harm your fetus and cause premature delivery.
    2. Any health issues in your body before pregnancy can also cause premature delivery.
    3. Unnecessary physical work or inappropriate exercises that involve too much twisting and turning will hurt the fetus. Gym exercises, aerobics, intense swimming, or lifting heavy weights can harm the fetus and cause premature delivery.
    4. It is best to avoid sexual intercourse in the final trimester when the fetus has grown in size. During pregnancy, the vagina and uterus are extra sensitive to injury. The sexual act causes unnecessary exertion and could harm the fetus.
    5. Having a previous premature birth can cause complications.
    6. Already having a problem with the uterus, cervix or placenta may lead to premature delivery.
    7. Some chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes during pregnancy can affect the fetus, causing preterm labor.
    8. If the mother-to-be is underweight or overweight before pregnancy and during pregnancy.
    9. If the mother-to-be has gone through stressful life events, the pregnancy may be difficult.
    10. Multiple miscarriages or abortions also cause complications.
    11. Physical injury or trauma adversely affects the birth of the baby.
    12. When there is too much amniotic fluid around the baby during pregnancy, the uterus becomes larger. Preterm labor is to be induced in such a case without any delay.
    13. The presence of a congenital fetal disability may lead to a complicated delivery.
    14. If the mother-to-be is too young or too old to conceive, it may be a cause of concern.

    Prevention of premature delivery

    1. The first and the most important thing is to take care of your diet during your whole pregnancy. Do not eat any foods that are difficult to digest.
    • Carrot or tomato juice is not advisable. Tomato soup may be consumed occasionally.
    • Cheese and paneer can be occasionally eaten in small quantities at lunchtime.
    • Avoid noodles, biscuits, cake, and other foods made from refined flour as much as possible.
    • Varieties made from whole wheat flour are better and healthier.
    • Chemicals used in icing and decoration could be harmful.
    • The amount of uncooked salt (salt added after cooking) should be reduced as it has almost no nutritional value.
    • Soda and other carbonated drinks weaken the digestive fire in the human body. Such beverages may be replaced with freshly made lemon juice.
    • Fermented foods are heavy to digest and, therefore, should be avoided.
    • Snacks such as idly, dhokla, and dosa should be homemade and not be fermented for too long.
    • Do not eat excessive sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter & astringent foods. A balanced diet for the mother-to-be should include all six tastes in balance.
    1. Smoking & drinking must be avoided.
    2. Avoid traveling on hollow roads or on vehicles that jerk and bump a lot when pregnant. Women should not travel long distances during the last trimester of pregnancy. Direct injury or impact of any kind to the abdomen can injure the fetus.
    3. Wear loose and comfortable garments. Avoid tight-fitting clothes that will impede circulation. Jeans, skirts, and petticoats that tend to tighten around the abdomen should be avoided.
    4. In the case of multiple pregnancies, you can go through a surgical procedure performed during pregnancy in women. During this procedure, the cervix is stitched close with strong sutures to provide extra support to the uterus. You need to avoid vigorous activity throughout the remaining pregnancy in such cases. This can help you in preventing preterm labor.
    5. An interval of fewer than six months between pregnancies is not recommended. It would help if you had at least a year’s gap or more between pregnancies.


    So, complications of preterm labor include delivering a preterm baby. This can pose several health concerns for your baby.

    Therefore, to promote a healthy, full-term pregnancy, take care of your diet. Seek regular prenatal care, and consider pregnancy spacing. Manage your diabetes and blood pressure during pregnancy.

    Some Terminology:

    • Complications - Diseases or conditions that happen due to another disease or condition. An example of a pregnancy complication is pregnancy diabetes.
    • High Blood Pressure - This is also referred to as hypertension.
    • Multiple Pregnancy - A pregnancy with two or more fetuses (Garb).
    • Prenatal care - A program for pregnant women before the birth of their baby.
    • Preterm - Earlier than 37 weeks of pregnancy.


    • Dr Sanket Devlekar.(July, 2020). Premature Delivery.
    • Swati.(February, 2020). Premature Delivery.
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