pregnant woman eating cerealOut of all the complications women can possibly suffer during their pregnancies, going into preterm labor and delivering a baby who isn't fully developed yet has to be one of the biggest fears.

We all know that carrying right up until yourdue date is the best possible scenario. Even if you aren't considered to be having a high risk pregnancy, there are things you can do to lessen the chances of having a preterm birth.

Here are seven ways to help avoid premature labor, and also take great care of yourself in the process.

  1. Practice good oral hygiene -- Yes, I'm talking about brushing and flossing like a good girl. A new study published in the Journal of Periodontology found that gum disease can actually lead to premature labor and/or babies who have a low birth weight. Even though it can be a pain (not to mention a little painful) to floss when your gums are already swollen from pregnancy, it's imperative to do it daily.
  2. Eat your breakfast -- As crazy as it may sound, some experts have linked skipping breakfast to premature labor. Go ahead and fix yourself a huge plate of eggs and bacon and worry about dropping the pounds after the baby comes.
  3. Get a flu shot -- The flu is horrible as it is, but getting it during pregnancy could be a matter of life and death. Yes, the flu can cause preterm birth -- so get the shot to keep yourself and your baby safe.
  4. Don't drink or smoke -- I know, I know, this one's a real no-brainer. But it still needs to be said and the reminder can't hurt. Smoking, alcohol, and/or drugs can increase your chances for preterm labor.
  5. Gain enough weight but not too much -- Yep. Putting on too much pregnancy weight ornot gaining enough pregnancy weight are two more causes of preterm birth. (Great. Moms just can't win.)
  6. Get proper prenatal care -- In addition to seeing your doctor regularly, taking a prenatal vitamin every day is essential for maintaining a healthy full-term pregnancy.
  7. Drink plenty of water -- Would you believe that dehydration can cause contractions? It's always important to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water per day, but even more so during pregnancy.

Have you been doing all of these things to maintain a healthy pregnancy?

 

Image via Todd Wright/Corbis