Teens
Preventing Infant Deaths

If You Are Pregnant

Hopefully, your pregnancy is a time of excitement, anticipation, and joy. These tips can increase your changes of preventing problems and delivering what most all mothers want – a healthy, full-term baby. If you are not pregnant but have a friend or relative who is, share these tips with her. Help her do everything she can to stay healthy and have a healthy baby.

Try to quit smoking and stay away from second-hand smoke.
Every substance you breathe in is shared with your baby. In our community, women who smoke while they are pregnant are twice as likely to have a baby die. Even breathing in other people’s smoke can cause your baby to be born sick or too small.

  • If you are currently a smoker, try to quit. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for help.
  • Ask your friends or family to step outside if they want to smoke.
  • Look for smoke-free places when you eat out or go out to have fun.
  • Try to stay quit after the baby is born. Your body will thank you for it.

Start prenatal care right away.
The sooner you start, the better off your baby can be. Prenatal care allows your health care provider to find and manage many of the problems that could cause harm if left untreated.

  • Find a doctor, midwife or nurse practitioner that you feel comfortable with.
  • Most obstetricians in the Winston-Salem area do take Medicaid. Ask about payment options during your very first visit.
  • Call the Department of Public Health at 336-703-3200 to see if you also qualify for the Baby Love program. This program gives you extra attention from nurses or social workers that can help you throughout your pregnancy.

Learn the signs of pre-term labor.
Would you recognize the signs if you started going into labor during only your fifth month of pregnancy? One of the most important steps pregnant women can take is to learn the signs or pre-term labor and know what to do. The overwhelming majority of our babies that die in this community are born at least 3 months too early. Learning the signs of pre-term labor may help you save your baby’s life.

Signs of pre-term labor:

  • Contractions every 10 minutes or more often. (Remember that contractions 3 or 4 months before your due date might not be as strong as you would expect. One mother of a baby born more than 3 months too early said her contractions just felt like “little squeezies” – her stomach would just tense up and get hard, then relax.)
  • Clear, pink, or brownish fluid (water) leaking from your vagina. It might be just a trickle, not a gush.
  • The feeling that your baby is pushing down
  • Low, bull backache
  • Cramps that feel like your period
  • Cramps with or without diarrhea

Know what to do.
Call your health care provider (doctor, midwife, or nurse) or go to the hospital right away if you are having any of these signs and think you might be in preterm labor. Call even if you only have one sign.
Your health care provider might tell you to:

  • Come into the office or go to the hospital for a checkup.
  • Stop what you are doing. Rest on your left side for one hour.
  • Drink 2-3 glasses of water or juice (not coffee or soda).

If symptoms get worse or do not go away within one hour, call your doctor again or go to the hospital. If the symptoms do get better, relax for the rest of the day.

Take prenatal vitamins with Folic Acid.
Folic Acid is a B vitamin that helps your body in many ways. If you start early enough, it can also prevent up to 70% of birth defects in you baby’s brain and spine.

  • If you’re not already taking prenatal vitamins with Folic Acid, start right away.
  • It is never too late to start. Even if you did not start on prenatal vitamins early in pregnancy, late is still better than never. Starting your vitamins later in pregnancy will not help you prevent neural tube defects but will enhance overall health for you and the baby.
  • Ask your doctor about over the counter brands. They are much cheaper than prescription prenatal vitamins and some brands are just as good.

Get tested for common infections.
Many different types of infections have now been linked to pregnant women going into labor much too early. Some common Reproductive Tract Infections and even Sexually Transmitted Diseases can linger with almost no symptoms but can cause serious harm to you and your baby. Ask your health care provider about being tested. Even problems with your teeth and infections in your mouth might trigger preterm labor.

Try to leave an abusive situation.
Domestic violence is all too common in our community and across our nation. If you are pregnant, abuse is dangerous for you and for your baby. No one deserves to be abused. Call Family Services in Winston-Salem at (336) 723-8125 for help anytime.

Eat well – for you and for the baby.
A well-balanced diet is a great way to give your baby a healthy start. Most doctors advise gaining about 25-30 pounds during your pregnancy, depending on the weight you were when you because pregnant.

  • Eating for two does not mean eating twice as much – it means eating twice as well.
  • Gaining too little can hurt your baby. Staying thin is great but not at the cost of your baby’s health.
  • Gaining too much weight can put you at risk for more medical complications. Talk with your health care provider about how to manage your weight.

Click here for a list of different fish that are safe to eat while pregnant and a list of fish to avoid.

Try to reduce your stress.
Stress during pregnancy is unavoidable. Too much stress, however, might trigger preterm labor and could contribute to your baby being born months too early. Follow these quick tips to reduce your stress as much as possible.

  • Recognize when you are stressed and try to cut down on the time with activities or people who might add stress to your life.
  • Rest when you need it. The best thing you can do for you and your baby is to take it easy.
  • Make time to relax every day, even if only for 10 minutes.
  • Find your friends. Support from your partner, family, or friends can really help you unwind and relax. If your family and friends are adding to your stress, take time out just to be by yourself.
  • Do not try to manage your stress with “quick fixes.” Cigarettes, alcohol or street drugs might make you feel better and relieve stress for a little while, but it doesn’t take long for their harmful effects to catch up to you and a baby.

Contact Information

The Forsyth County Infant Mortality Reduction Coalition is a community partnership housed within the Forsyth County Department of Public Health.

(336) 703-3260

Did You Know . . .

About half of all premature births have no known cause.