About Preterm Birth
Preterm birth – having a baby before 37 weeks of pregnancy – is a leading cause of death and medical complications in infants. Sometimes labor begins too early (spontaneous preterm birth). Other times a doctor may recommend early delivery because the pregnancy is no longer healthy for the mother or the baby.
The cause of spontaneous preterm birth is largely unknown. Possible causes may include genetics, infection, social stress, and issues with the woman’s cervix. Pregnancies that are too close together may also contribute to preterm birth.
No matter what caused your preterm birth, research shows that you are more likely than other moms to deliver a baby early again. About 20% of moms with one preterm birth will have another.
- Having one baby too early puts you at high risk for another preterm birth.
- Wait at least 12 months to get pregnant again after your preterm birth.
- Intrauterine devices (IUD) and implants are just as effective at preventing pregnancy as getting your tubes tied.
- You can get pregnant right away after giving birth.
Questions for my doctor or midwife
- Do we know what caused my preterm birth?
- Will I need tests or medications in my next pregnancy to prevent preterm birth?
- When is it safe for me to have another baby?
- What birth control choices are good for me?
- Does my medical history affect my birth control options?
- Are there options for long-term birth control besides sterilization?
- Are there non-hormonal methods for birth control?
How can I prevent pregnancy?
Many women feel overwhelmed after preterm birth. While it can be hard to think about yourself, it is important to take control of your reproductive life. This includes using appropriate birth control methods and getting pregnant again only when you are ready to get pregnant.
Forgettable Contraception 99% effective (typical use)
- Intrauterine device (IUD): Either hormonal or non-hormonal, good for three to 10 years depending on the type (Paragard, Mirena or Skyla), reversible
- Contraceptive implant: Progestin-only hormonal implant, good for three years (Nexplanon), reversible
Permanent Contraception 99% effective (typical use)
- Female sterilization: Postpartum laparoscopic or Essure
- Male sterilization: Vasectomy
Short-Acting Contraception 91% - 95% effective (typical use)
- Depo Provera injection: Go to your health care provider’s office for an injection every three months.
- Oral contraceptive pill: Remember to take a pill every day.
- Contraceptive patch: Remember to change your patch every week.
- Contraceptive ring: Remember to change your ring every month.
Barrier Contraception 85% effective (typical use)
- Male condom: Must be used correctly and consistently every time you have sex.
Don’t forget that emergency contraception is available over-the-counter or by prescription. You can take it in case of unprotected sex or a mistake using your birth control. Products include Plan B Onestep, Nextchoice and Ella.
For more information
Need help getting birth control? Women & Infants can help. Call the Women’s Primary Care Center’s Contraceptive Consult Clinic at (401) 274-1122, extension 42740 or 42721.
March of Dimes
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists