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Pregnancy Myths

Fact or Fiction?

MYTH: Once a preterm delivery, always a preterm delivery.
Shawn A. Tassone, M.D. (OB/GYN)

If you have experienced a preterm birth, then you know the emotional challenge of leaving the hospital without your baby, followed by the challenge of daily return trips to the hospital to provide breast milk for feedings. The bonding experience is less than ideal in these circumstances. Moreover, the sterility of the hospital is far different than the comfort of a home nursery. So what's your first worry when you become pregnant again? That you'll have to endure the entire process again, which your friend said might be the case since one preterm birth means that you'll have another.

Approximately 10 to 15 percent of women with a previous preterm birth will deliver early again. There is not much you can do about this unless there was a particular reason for the preterm labor in your previous pregnancy. For instance, some women experienced preterm labor because of lack of proper prenatal care during their last pregnancy; obviously this could be changed the second time around. Other reasons for previous preterm births are usage of alcohol or drugs, domestic violence, lack of emotional or physical support, and stress, and these are all things that you can control. In cases where there is a structural anomaly of the cervix or uterus or unknown infection, there may be nothing to be done to prevent another preterm birth.

As you can see, once a preterm birth is not always a preterm birth. Actually, the odds are in your favor that you will not have a preterm birth this time around. Make sure you get frequent and early care for your pregnancy if you have a history of preterm birth and be aware of the signs and symptoms of preterm labor. If you experience symptoms of low back pain, tightening of the stomach on a regular basis, deep pressure in the vagina, leakage of clear fluid, or vaginal bleeding, call your provider immediately. Many women who experience signs of preterm labor will go on to deliver a healthy full-term infant. No one knows your body better than you. Always let your provider know how you are doing.
Shawn A. Tassone, M.D. author of "Hands Off My Belly! The Pregnant Woman's Guide to Surviving Myths, Mothers, and Moods"
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Community Comments (4)

Comment from LanaB7 » Posted Feb. 2, 2014 8:41pm
I had a preterm birth and it was not caused by any of the issues noted in the article. I'm a tiny person and my body just couldn't hold/handle the baby anymore. Gave birth one month early. This article makes it sound like the only reason you have a preterm birth is if you're not taking proper care of yourself throughout your pregnancy.

Comment from BenjaminsMommy2012 » Posted Mar. 15, 2013 10:41am
MY first was pre term. Prematurity runs in the family (I was born at 26 1/2 weeks twin bith. My DH was a 26 weeker also. It was due to bad prenatal care). I was schedualed for Induction cause of GD. five days later I go into labor. And two days after that (64 hours), my son was born at 35 weeks. Because of GD he was 8.3 lbs. Spent only 10 days in the NICU. I got GD even with a good diet and proper weight gain so I don't know what to do for this one (if im pregnant)

Comment from a guest » Posted Sep. 27, 2011 11:45am
i had three pre term babies and one full term so who knows what was going on

Comment from a guest » Posted Jul. 12, 2011 9:18pm
Having had 1 preterm birth, i was glad to read this article! looks like the odds are in my favor not to have another. so glad that it's such a low percentage for a repeat preterm delivery. Maybe I can stop worrying so much now! thank you

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