Preventing Preterm Birth: Information for Patients

PROVIDERS, click here for clinician education videos on 17OHPC and the short cervix


Most likely, your doctor counted 40 weeks from the time you became pregnant. That’s because babies born between 39 and 40 weeks of pregnancy have the best chance of being healthy. This is why it’s important to have a full term pregnancy. Full term means your baby is born between 39 and 40 weeks.

If you deliver your baby between 38 and 39 weeks, it is called Early Term. Babies born between 41 and 42 weeks are considered Late Term, and babies born after 42 weeks are Postterm.

A preterm birth is when a baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. A preterm birth can be completely unexpected, and these babies are much more likely to become sick. In fact, the earlier a baby is born, the more likely it is that he or she will have health problems.

To print this list, click here.
You may want to bring this with you to your next doctor’s appointment.

  • Understand your risk factors
  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol & non-prescribed or illegal drugs
  • Eat the right foods and vitamins
  • Talk to your doctor about a healthy exercise plan fit for you
  • Give the doctor your complete medical history

17OHPC is a hormone medicine that your doctor may prescribe. If you’ve had a preterm birth before and are now pregnant with one baby, you may be right for 17OHPC. It’s a once-a-week injection given by your healthcare provider. Injections start between 16-20 weeks and continue until the 37th week, or until you deliver – whichever happens first.

The doctor may also decide to do a cerclage. This is when a stitch is placed around your cervix.

Vaginal progesterone is another option that can prevent preterm birth. This is also a type of hormone medicine that a doctor or nurse will teach you how to place in your vagina.

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  1. March of Dimes. Born Too Small and Too Soon in New York. Available at:
  2. March of Dimes. Prematurity Campaign. Available at:
  3. March of Dimes. Preterm Labor. Available at:
  4. March of Dimes. Your premature baby. Available at: October 2013
  5. Engle WA, Tomashek KM, Wallman C. Late-preterm infants: a population at risk. Pediatrics. 2007;120:1390-1401.

The content herein was developed independently by ACOG District II, and made possible through unrestricted non-CME educational grant funding from Lumara Health.


For Providers

If you’d like to print our patient brochure, click here for a PDF version

Preterm birth continues to be a major public health challenge in the United States despite our efforts to reduce it. These clinical education videos address the preterm birth issue while tackling important questions and clinical scenarios. For more information on ACOG District II’s preterm birth education, please contact Kristin Zielinski, Medical Education Director, at 518-436-3461 or

Tailored specifically for the generalist obstetrician-gynecologist, this video offers education on the definition and background of preterm birth, the latest clinical trials and evidence-based research supporting the use of 17OHPC, guidance on its appropriate clinical use, and detailed information on establishing an in-office protocol for administration.

This clinical education video is the second in the Preventing Preterm Birth series and has been made possible through educational grant funding from Lumara HealthTM. The scientific content within this presentation was developed independently by the ACOG District II 17OHPC Task Force. ACOG District II would like to thank its 17OHPC Task Force, chaired by Peter S. Bernstein, MD, MPH, FACOG, for their time and expertise spent producing this clinical content.
Policy and Access Update on Makena – July 2014


Short Cervix
New science has shed light on the predictive nature of the cervix in assessing who may be at risk for preterm birth. Through cervical length screening in at risk populations, it is possible that the detection of a short cervix via transvaginal ultrasound may assist ob-gyns in assessing which patients are truly vulnerable and what steps need to be taken in order to prevent a preterm delivery.

This clinical education video is the first in the Preventing Preterm Birth series and has been made possible through educational grant funding from Watson Pharmaceuticals. ACOG District II would like to thank its Short Cervix Task Force, chaired by Robert Romero, MD, D.Med.Sci., FACOG, for their time and expertise spent producing this clinical content.

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
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