Delaying imminent pre-term birth

Delaying Imminent Pre-Term Birth

When a baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy, it is classified as pre-term birth. Pre-term birth can happen due to a range of health complications, and in some cases, the birth must take place as soon as possible. However, if the health of the mother and baby permit, it may be possible to delay the pre-term birth to give the baby the best possible start in life.

Benefits of Delaying Pre-Term Birth

Delaying an imminent pre-term birth can provide a number of benefits to the baby, including:

  • Better lung development, as the lungs will have more time to mature.
  • Time to develop other important organs, such as the brain and gastrointestinal tract.
  • A full course of steroids to mature the baby’s lungs and improve his/her chances of survival.
  • More time for the baby to receive additional blood flow through the placenta, which can enhance normal growth and development.
  • The chance to receive more comprehensive care from experienced neonatal providers.

Managing Pre-Term Birth

When it is medically possible, delaying pre-term birth is recommended. However, there are a number of measures that need to be taken to help manage a pre-term birth. These can include:

  • Daily monitoring of the baby’s health, including fetal movement, heart rate, and fluid levels.
  • Regular testing for any infection or other complications.
  • Medications to help delay pre-term labour, such as betamethasone which may be given to help mature the baby’s lungs in preparation for labour.
  • Progesterone to help prevent pre-term labour.
  • Consultation with a multidisciplinary team including neonatologists, obstetricians, and nutritionists to guide the mother on how to best manage the situation.

Risks of Pre-Term Birth

Even with the best medical care, pre-term birth carries certain risks to the health of the baby. These can include:

  • Breathing difficulties due to the baby’s immature lungs.
  • Problems with sight and hearing, caused by the baby’s underdeveloped senses.
  • Developmental delays due to the baby’s reduced time in the womb.
  • Long-term problems such as autism and cerebral palsy.


Delaying an imminent pre-term birth can provide many benefits to the baby, including better lung development, time for organs to mature, and improved chances of survival. However, there are risks associated with pre-term birth which need to be considered. Regular monitoring and consultation with a multidisciplinary team can help to manage any potential complications.