Why was my baby born earlier? Reasons for the premature birth

The normal duration of pregnancy is about 40 weeks. It is not until then that the newly born child is completely ready for life outside the womb. However, sometimes the baby happens to be born earlier than expected. This might pose many risks, but the good news is that nowadays medical science has reached such a high level that it is possible to save earlier and earlier born babies.

The more advanced the week in which a baby is born, the more mature their organism is and the greater the chances for them to cope with life outside the mother’s womb are. Nevertheless, premature babies need special care, qualified medical specialists and modern equipment that can provide them with the best development. Some babies stay in a hospital for months, until they reach the growth and development that is necessary to allow them to get home without the need for medical care.

As parents, we are never prepared for such a situation. Perhaps you are not either. You are facing a huge challenge, which makes you confront a painful reality, where you start counting every minute, every gram of weight gained and every small victory won by your child, instead of being overwhelmed with joyous euphoria caused by the birth of your child. In addition, you are eagerly waiting for the cherished moment when all of you can get home together.

Do not lose heart and do not stop believing, even for an instant, that everything is going to be all right. The dozens of stories on the website of the Foundation ‘Our Premature Children’ (www.premature-bg.com) will convince you how willing to live and ready to fight these little heroes are.


Main Reasons for Premature Birth

Vaginal infections

One of the most common causes of premature birth are the vaginal infections such as chlamydia, trichomoniasis, mycoplasma, toxoplasmosis, bacterial vaginosis, etc. Normally, the uterus is sterile, but every inflammation makes its walls dysfunctional, so pregnancy continues until the walls of the uterus can be stretched, with the body trying to get rid of the foetus after that.

Viral infections

Rubella, cytomegalovirus, herpes, influenza, adenovirus infection.

Non-typical attachment of the placenta

The so-called placenta praevia.

Multiple pregnancies

They pose a risk of premature birth, although there are cases of post term of twins. The birth of a premature baby can occur in 75% of women who become mothers for the first time and in 45% of those women who had given birth before. This is due to the fact that, as it is stretched more than usual, the uterus contracts more easily. Examinations should be made every 15 days, and the pregnant woman should rest as much as possible upon entry into the seventh month

Age factor

Pregnancy is considered risky in young women at 14 to18 years of age, as well as in patients over 35 years of age.

Chronic diseases

Both good prenatal care and strict follow-up by a specialist are required in case the pregnant woman has got any disease such as hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, anemia, diseases of the lungs or liver, etc.

Particular caution should be paid by women who have chronic and acute inflammation of the uterus; endometrium; those who have had abortions and those who have had a miscarriage. A present inflammatory process should be cured immediately.

Shock, trauma, excessive exercise

These are also factors that can contribute to premature birth.

Cervical insufficiency

The second most common cause of premature birth is the cervical insufficiency (CI). CI is an anatomical abnormality of the muscles of the cervix in the region of its internal opening.

CI can be congenital (very rare) and acquired. Its development can be caused by a trauma to the cervix during previous abortion as a result of the use of metal tools. It may also be due to ruptures of the cervix in previous births (with large foetus or when using obstetric tools), and coarse extension of the channel during examination of the uterus. Often, CI occurs with increased levels of testosterone in the blood. In congenital conditions, the main reason for the occurrence of CI is a defect in the muscle tissue.

As a result, the internal opening of the cervix cannot endure the growing foetus during pregnancy, the cervix opens and miscarriage or premature birth occur.


Pre-eclampsia is characterized with high blood pressure (hypertension), swelling and intumescence of the hands, ankles and face, rapid gain of weight (1.5-2 kg per week) and sleep disorders. In fact, these are only the visible signs that there is something wrong in the woman’s body. The increased level of proteins (albumin) secreted by the kidneys into the urine and severe headache are typical of pre-eclampsia. Known also as "toxemia" (presence of toxic substances in the blood), pre-eclampsia typically occurs in the last trimester of pregnancy and is developing very quickly.

Kidney function is impaired, and the proteins of the blood are carried into the urine. With deterioration of the condition, several other vital organs are affected, including liver, lungs, heart, and bloodclotting. Dangerous complications occur, such as eclampsia (convulsions), brain hemorrhage, pulmonary oedema (due to fluid in the lungs as a result of abnormal heartbeat), liver damage and blood dilution. Fortunately, these complications are rare.

In preeclampsia, the blood supply to the placenta may be compromised. This is dangerous, since if the placenta does not get enough blood, the baby does not receive enough oxygen and nutrients. This may be the reason for a lower weight at birth (hypotrophy) and other problems for the baby. Caesarean section should be undertaken in serious adverse intra-uterine conditions. Taking such a decision is hard, the situation must be assessed calmly and the following questions should be answered:

  1.  What is the status of the mother?
  2.  What are the risks for her if the pregnancy continues?
  3. What are the chances of the baby to survive?

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is one of the most common metabolic diseases, which occur during pregnancy. It is caused by elevated blood sugar levels and can have serious short-term and long-term adverse effects on the mother and the baby. Most of the pregnant women with this disorder deliver healthy, full-term children. Adverse effects can be reduced through appropriate care – timely diagnosis and proper treatment, dietary regime and physical activity, as well as proper behavior during and after birth. Poorly controlled blood sugar levels can lead to serious consequences.

In some situations, giving birth is induced earlier to save the life of the mother and the baby. The reasons for this can be chronic diseases of the mother, pre-eclampsia, placental detachment and others.

Welcome to  "All About Premature Babies" website.
This is a project of "Our premature babies" Foundation based in Bulgaria. The book is a result of a team’s hardwork that includes doctors, psychologists, breastfeeding consultants and premature babies parents. The common information about premature babies which you can find here will help you understand better the situation you've been facing.
Please keep in mind that some of the information related to the neonatal intensive care units is prevalent only in Bulgaria.

We hope that this website and the book are going to help you to be more informed, calm and confident. We wish you and your baby best of luck and health.

Our Premature Children Foundation. © 2015. All rights reserved. The content in this website is subject of copyright. Publishing, copying and using content from this website is permitted only with mandatory reference to the source!