Skip to content

Prematurity Awareness Month: How to Lower the Risks

Posted in:Expecting a BabyHome Visiting


Nov. Prematurity Awareness

Did you know that one in every 10 babies is born prematurely each year in the United States? A premature (or preterm) birth is when a baby is born at least three weeks before the due date. A developing baby goes through important growth throughout pregnancy, including in the final months and weeks. For example, the brain, lungs, and liver need the final weeks of pregnancy to fully develop.

Preventing preterm birth remains a challenge because many of the causes are complex and not always well understood. However, pregnant women can take important steps to help reduce their risk of preterm birth and improve their general health:

  • If you smoke tobacco, vape, or Juul, it is important to quit. Learn ways to stop smoking.
  • Avoid alcohol and do not use drugs.
  • Get medical checkups, especially your yearly well-woman visit, before pregnancy.
    Learn more about well-woman care
  • Seek prenatal care as soon as you think you may be pregnant (ideally in the first trimester) and keep getting regular prenatal care throughout your pregnancy.

Make sure to discuss the following topics with your health care provider:

  • How to manage diseases such as high blood sugar (diabetes) and high blood pressure (hypertension) before, during, and after your pregnancy. For your health and the health of your unborn baby, it’s important to control chronic health conditions.
  • Nearly six out of 10 women in Delaware are obese or overweight. It’s important to stick to a healthy diet, as well as take daily prenatal vitamins that have 400 micrograms of folic acid, before and during early pregnancy.
  • If you had a previous preterm birth, ask about the use of progesterone treatment.
  • Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for babies, whether they are premature or not. Be sure to ask about breastfeeding.

What are the warning signs and symptoms of preterm labor?
If you have even one of these signs or symptoms of preterm labor, call your health care provider right away:

  • Change in your vaginal discharge (watery, mucous, or bloody) or more vaginal discharge than usual.
  • Pressure in your pelvis or lower belly, like your baby is pushing down.
  • Constant low, dull backache.


© 2024. Delaware Division of Public Health.