I'm pregnant. How can I prevent my baby from being born too early? – Aisha Preterm (early) delivery before 39 weeks can't always be prevented. But taking care of yourself is also the best way to take care of your baby. Prenatal care is the health care you get while you're pregnant. Start prenatal care as soon as you know you are pregnant, and keep checkup appointments throughout your pregnancy. Here are some other things you can do to lower the chance of going into labor early: Get any health issues, like diabetes, managed and under control. Don't smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs. Eat a healthy diet (getting plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, etc.) and exercise if your doctor says it's OK. Gain a healthy amount of weight (not too much or too little). Protect yourself from infections (including Zika). Be sure to wash your hands well and often; don't eat raw meat, fish, or unpasteurized cheese; get any immunizations your doctor recommends; and use condoms to protect against STDs. Reduce stress in your life (find help for financial troubles, get support from family or friends, etc.). Other things that can increase a pregnant woman's chance of early labor include: being overweight or obese having had a previous preterm birth carrying multiples, like twins or triplets problems with the uterus, cervix, or vagina infections like STDs or urinary tract infections (UTIs) having had a recent pregnancy (less than 18 months ago) difficult problems like unemployment, domestic violence, etc. Talk to your doctor if you have any of these risks. In many cases, your doctor can help — such as offering progesterone shots to lower your chances of a preterm birth or prescribing antibiotics to fight infection. Your doctor also can connect you with counselors or social workers who can help if you're dealing with addiction, financial troubles, or other problems. Back to Articles Related Articles Staying Healthy During Pregnancy During your pregnancy, you'll probably get advice from everyone. But staying healthy depends on you - read about the many ways to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible. Read More Eating During Pregnancy To eat well during pregnancy, your extra calories should come from nutritious foods that contribute to your baby's growth and development. Read More Medical Care During Pregnancy The sooner in pregnancy good care begins, the better for the health of both moms and their babies. Here's what to expect. Read More When Do Pregnant Women Need Progesterone Shots? Find out what the experts have to say. Read More When Your Baby’s Born Premature Premature infants, known as preemies, come into the world earlier than full-term infants. They have many special needs that make their care different from other babies. Read More Pregnancy Precautions: FAQs Moms-to-be have a lot of questions about what's safe during pregnancy. Keep your sanity by knowing what you can - and can't - do before your baby arrives. Read More Preparing for Multiple Births Are you expecting more than one baby? Find out how to take care of yourself and prepare for your multiple birth experience. Read More Exercising During Pregnancy Most women benefit greatly from exercising throughout their pregnancies. But during that time, you'll need to make a few changes to your normal exercise routine. Read More What's a "High-Risk" Pregnancy? Find out what the experts have to say. Read More A Week-by-Week Pregnancy Calendar Our week-by-week illustrated pregnancy calendar is a detailed guide to all the changes taking place in your baby - and in you! Read More Fetal Alcohol Syndrome If a woman drinks alcohol during her pregnancy, her baby could be born with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), which causes a wide range of physical, behavioral, and learning problems. Read More Prenatal Tests: FAQs Every parent-to-be hopes for a healthy baby, but it can be hard not to worry. Find out what tests can keep you informed of your health — and your baby's — throughout pregnancy. Read More Are You in Labor? Here's how to tell the difference between true labor and false labor -- and when to get medical care. Read More Preventing Premature Birth Babies who are born premature - before 37 weeks of pregnancy - can have health problems that last their whole lives. Learn ways to prevent early labor and have a healthy pregnancy. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.