A woman may be able to reduce her risk of preterm labor and delivery by getting healthy before getting pregnant. Once pregnant, a woman should get early and regular prenatal care. A visit to a healthcare provider before getting pregnant is especially important for women with medical disorders such as diabetes or high blood pressure. When a woman receives good care before and during pregnancy, problems often can be found and treated early, helping to reduce the risk for preterm birth.
To increase the chances of a healthy full-term pregnancy, a woman should:
- Avoid alcohol, smoking and illicit drugs beginning before pregnancy and during pregnancy
- Try to reach a healthy weight before pregnancy and gain the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy
- Get screened and treated, if needed, for infections including sexually transmitted diseases
- Reduce stress
- Have plenty of social support
- Allow 18 months between pregnancies
Avoiding other risk factors may also increase a woman’s likelihood of having a strong and healthy baby.