Premature    labor occurs when gestation is less than 37 weeks. As the blood    volume expands to 50-60% of the blood (especially for twins), there    is a need for more protein,    vitamin E and B, iron (not iron salts), water and other minerals.

Premature    labor is most often due to poor nutrition which predisposes women to    infections and other precipitating factors. Healthy, well-nourished    women have intermittent, strong Braxton-hicks    contractions from about    34 weeks (and often sooner), lasting until term. Sometimes these    practice contractions last for hours at a time. Primary prevention    includes: eating healthy food, stopping of smoking/alcohol    consumption, treating vaginal infections and other infections early (urinary,    kidney, etc.),    preventing anemia, adequate prenatal care,    avoiding prolonged standing or work-related stress and other    emotional stress.

One    friend of mine is a vegan, multigravid mother who delivered a full-term    infant weighing 7 lbs. last August 1996 in Santa Cruz. She had two    births with premature infants, both weighing 5 lb. at 36th weeks    gestation. The third healthy full term baby had no problems with    sucking and jaundice as compared to his two old brothers who were    born at 36 weeks and had problems with sucking and jaundice.

When    my friend was pregnant for her third child, she had episodes of    nausea during the first trimester which she ignored and continued on    eating healthy food. She educated herself in midwifery care and    wellness to keep a healthy baby. She is herself a student midwife who    saw two midwives     for her regular    prenatal visits. In the 16th    week of her pregnancy, she felt strong cramping and mucus discharge.    She is aware of her previous premature births, her low socioeconomic    lifestyle, her platypelloid (unusual) pelvis and her short cervix,    all precursors to premature births.

This    time she rested when her body complained of pain after a heavy    household chore, riding in a bike or a bout with a flu or infection.    She had a body and foot massage    and used 2particular     herbs     (in capsule form) which    can prevent a miscarriage: red raspberry and wild yam. She took the    herbs for less than 10 days and in the 31st    week of her pregnancy she felt strong and consistent contractions.    Determined to have a full term baby, she was taking things slowly    especially household chores, taking more rest and eating nutritious    food and especially hydrating    or drinking lots of filtered water every hour.    She listened to her midwives and stopped breastfeeding her toddler    when she learned of her pregnancy and stopped sex     during the last trimester.

At    37 weeks and 3 days, she felt that labor was starting and called her    midwives. Rocking herself on the chair for a few hours and staying on    hands and knees few minutes before the baby came, she felt the pain    which lasted for a good 15 minutes and she birthed a 7 pounds baby    boy to her delight. When asked about her pregnancy and carrying a    full term baby, she said she could have carried the baby even longer    had she rested and worked with less stress.

Overall    she is happy that all her tuning in to her body and providing proper    nutrition for her baby inside her womb paid off in the end.