Understanding Preterm Birth

What is preterm birth?

The goal of a healthy pregnancy is to deliver full term (39 to 40 weeks) to give your baby the time needed to grow and develop. For example, your baby’s brain and lungs are still developing during the last weeks of pregnancy.1,2

Preterm birth is when a baby arrives too early; that’s before 37 weeks of pregnancy, or 3 weeks prior to the baby’s due date.3 Preterm birth can be unexpected or unplanned. Sometimes, a baby needs to be delivered earlier than normal in certain medical situations.4

Preterm birth can happen to any pregnant woman and, in many cases, healthcare providers don’t fully understand what actually causes preterm birth. But moms who have delivered a baby too early (before 37 weeks) in the past — regardless of the number of weeks early they’ve delivered — are at a higher risk for having another preterm birth.5

Meet Lyn, mom of a 36-week preemie. Because she delivered her son early, she was at risk for another preterm birth. Hear her story.
Watch Lyn’s story (7:41)

Have you delivered preterm before?

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In the United States, approximately 1 in 10 babies is born prematurely each year.1 That’s nearly 400,000 babies born too early.6

Preterm birth rates vary for different racial and ethnic groups. In 2017, African Americans had a 13.4% preterm birth rate, Native Americans 10.8%, Hispanics 9.2%, Caucasians 8.9% and Asians 8.6%.7

Even if you’re healthy and do all the right things during pregnancy, such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle and eating a well-balanced diet, you still could have a premature baby. The good news is there are things you can do to decrease your risk for preterm delivery, especially if you have unexpectedly delivered a baby before 37 weeks of pregnancy in the past.

What are the potential risk factors for preterm birth?

While there are many causes for preterm birth, the safety and benefits of Makena have been demonstrated only in women who’ve unexpectedly delivered their baby prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy. Makena is not meant for use in women with multiple gestations or other risk factors for preterm birth.

Common risk for preterm birth (check all that apply to you)5:

When you are done, you will get a customized discussion guide to help you talk with your healthcare provider. Depending on your risk factor(s), Makena may or may not be right for you.

After checking all risk factors that apply to you, click on one of the buttons below to print or email your personalized discussion guide.

For a discussion guide with all risk factors included, access the complete list here.

Understand the risk factors for preterm birth. Kate, mom of a 35-week preemie, and her healthcare provider discuss her risk for another preterm birth and how she can reduce her risk for another preterm delivery.
Watch a video on risk factors (6:55)