Having a ‘bun in the oven’ can be a time of excitement and joy about what’s to come, but if your bun doesn’t ‘bake’ long enough, that can be cause for serious concern. According to the CDC, in 2021, preterm birth affected about one of every 10 infants born in the United States. That same year, the rate of preterm birth among Black women (14.8 percent) was about 50 percent higher than the rate of preterm birth among white or Hispanic women (9.5 percent and 10.2 percent respectively).
Most babies born prior to 24 weeks have little chance of survival.
Only about 50 percent will survive and the other 50 percent may die or have permanent problems. However, babies born after 32 weeks have a very high survival rate and usually do not have long-term complications. Premature babies born at hospitals with neonatal intensive care units (NICU) have the best results.
The longer your baby is in the womb, the better the chance he or she will be healthy. Here are five things every expectant mother should know about preterm birth to alleviate fears, minimize potential complications, and have a healthy pregnancy.
1. What is preterm labor?
A normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Preterm labor is when a baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy gestation.
When a baby is born before this period, they are at increased risk for suffering many complications. These include disabilities developing around their neurological system, children having cerebral palsy or other learning disabilities.
Preterm infants stay in the hospital longer and may experience more readmissions to the hospital for additional medical care.
2. Black women have a higher risk of preterm labor.
Black women have a higher risk for preterm labor and birth complications. Approximately 1 in 6 Black babies are born prematurely in the U.S. According to a CDC fact sheet, “the risk of preterm birth for Non-Hispanic black women is approximately 1.5 times the rate seen in white women.”
In an article for The Huffington Post,
3. What causes preterm labor?
There are several risk factors for preterm births and many are controllable with simple lifestyle changes. While all expectant mothers (or women looking to become pregnant) should know about the risk factors, knowing becomes especially important for women who: