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9 Risks For Premature Births That You May Not Be Aware Of

When you're pregnant, it's hard not to get bogged down in the fear of what could go wrong. You're willing to do anything to have a healthy pregnancy, whether this means giving up wine for nine months or enrolling in a prenatal yoga class. With this in mind, you may want to review the risks for premature births that you may not be aware of. This list isn't intended to freak you out, just provide some awareness (after all, stress is one of the potential factors).

According to the Mayo Clinic, a birth that occurs prior to the 37th week of pregnancy is considered premature. In general, full-term birth are preferable because they give the babies time to fully develop in the safety of the womb. Premature babies, however, may be more susceptible to infections and other complications. For these reasons, you'll want to do whatever is in your power to help your baby stay put until it's really go time.

With that in mind, it's a good idea to be aware of the many factors for preterm birth that could have flown under your radar. Very simple things, such as standing for several hours a day, or having a vitamin D deficiency, may lead to an early birth. Read on to learn which of these factors may apply to your own pregnancy.

1. Carrying Multiples

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If you're carrying two or more babies at once, then the possibility of premature birth is probably already on your radar. According to the March of Dimes, women carrying multiples are six times more likely to have a premature birth.

2. Standing For Long Periods Of Time

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Do you have a job that requires standing on your feet for long hours? As noted by Health Pages, standing for a long time may put pressure on your uterus and could ultimately cause contractions to start. If possible, you may want to find ways to alternate standing, sitting, and walking during your day.  

3. Having Diabetes

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Whether you had diabetes prior to the pregnancy or recently developed gestational diabetes, the condition could have many effects on your baby. And as noted by the Tommy's organization, any type of diabetes may ultimately increase the likelihood of a preterm birth. In this case, you can work with your doctor to help reduce your risk.

4. Suffering A Vitamin D Deficiency

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Pregnant women already have a mile-long list of nutritional must-haves. But there may be a good reason to add one more note to that list. According to a 2015 study in Obstetrics & Gynecology, having a vitamin D deficiency has been linked to preterm births. And as noted by the American Pregnancy Association, 4,000 IU of vitamin D is the ideal daily intake, so you may want to double-check your prenatal vitamins to be sure you're getting enough.

5. Having Pregnancies Close Together

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Sure, there are plenty of benefits to parenting children who are close in age, but you may not want to have your babies too close together. Having a second pregnancy within 18 months of giving birth has been linked to an increased risk of preterm birth, as noted by the Mayo Clinic. In general, it's a good idea to give your body time to recover before having that next baby.

6. Stressing Out

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Rare is the pregnant woman who isn't at least a little bit stressed out. After all, few tasks entail more responsibility than bringing a new life into the world. Unfortunately, as noted by a 2011 study in Clinics in Perinatology, maternal stress has been connected to preterm birth, so your stress level may be worth monitoring. Of course, telling anyone to calm down is probably the fastest way to make sure they stress out more. To realistically get a handle on your tension, you can start a relaxation routine with one simple stress reduction technique.

7. Going Through IVF

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You may assume that in-vitro fertilization (IVF) would carry an increased risk of preterm birth because of the probability of multiples. And although fertility drugs do often lead to multiple births, this is not the whole story. As explained by a 2004 study from Fertility and Sterility, even singleton pregnancies from IVF may have an increased risk of preterm birth; in fact, these pregnancies may be twice as likely as natural conceptions to result in early delivery. (Not that IVF pregnancies are unnatural). With this in mind, if you're having an IVF baby, then it's smart to work with your doctor to reduce the risk of preterm delivery.  

8. Smoking Cigarettes

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Yeah, smoking cigarettes is basically never advised by health professionals. For pregnant women in particular, smoking may lead to a baby who is born too early, as explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, even if you have the best of intentions for your child, quitting smoking can be notoriously difficult. There may be ways to outsmart your brain and quit smoking, thankfully.

9. Having UTIs

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Well, this news completely sucks. But according to WebMD, if you have a urinary tract infection (UTI), then the infection could potentially lead to uterine contractions and a preterm birth. If you suspect a UTI late in pregnancy, then a trip to your doctor's office is more or less mandatory.