You Can’t See
Delivering the Facts on Preterm Birth
Staying pregnant to full term, or 40 weeks, is one of the best ways to give babies the time they need to grow. Preterm birth—or delivery before 37 weeks of pregnancy—can prevent growth and development from happening inside a baby’s body during the final weeks of pregnancy.1,2
Read on for important information about preterm birth and The Growth You Can’t See, and download a brochure here.
What is Preterm Birth?
Preterm birth is the delivery of a baby less than 37 weeks of pregnancy.2 Preterm birth is more common than you may think. In the United States, approximately 400,000 babies are born too early—or preterm—each year.3
Babies Continue to Develop, Even in those Final Weeks of Pregnancy
Important developments occur during the last few weeks of pregnancy. Babies need every week inside the womb to grow and develop, inside and out.2,4,5 Regardless of birth weight, babies born early are also more likely to be re-hospitalized.8
It's important to know and understand the risk factors for preterm birth. Preterm birth is often unexpected. Some women may have an early delivery due to a medical situation, and sometimes one may have a greater chance of preterm birth due to known risk factors.1,2
Leading Risk Factors
- Prior preterm birth (unexpectedly delivered a baby before 37 weeks in the past)
- Pregnant with twins, triplets, or other multiples
- Problems with uterus or cervix
- African-American heritage
Other Risk Factors
- High blood pressure, stress, diabetes, or being overweight or underweight
- Smoking, drinking alcohol, or using drugs
- Short time between pregnancies
- Certain infections during pregnancy
Understanding Your Risk: Health & Family Segment
Learn if you may be at risk for preterm birth. Watch this segment from Health & Family to hear from a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist on preterm birth and its risk factors, and from a mom of two premature babies (26 and 23 weeks), who also shares her experiences.
Signs & Symptoms of
Pregnant women should be familiar with the signs of preterm labor. If any signs or symptoms of preterm labor occur before a baby’s due date, contact a healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Contractions, or tightening of the belly muscles, every ten minutes or less
Belly cramps with or without diarrhea
Low, dull backache
Cramps resembling menstrual cramps
Feeling of pressure in the pelvic area
A change in vaginal discharge
How to Lower Your Risk
of Preterm Birth
If you think you may be at risk for preterm birth, help protect your baby and seek early prenatal care. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways you can reduce your risk.
including possible treatment options.
At Risk for Preterm Birth: Pregnancy Stories
Hear how other moms learned about their preterm risk through these stories and video.
Free Educational Resources
If you’re a healthcare provider, patient advocacy organization, insurance company or someone interested in sharing educational materials, you can order The Growth You Can’t See brochure and/or a poster (in English or Spanish) and download a digital toolkit for free, including the brochure, poster and informational videos. Some materials are available in multiple languages.