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The next pregnancy

When you’ve already had a premature or sick baby, the thought of getting pregnant probably feels very risky. Will it happen again? Could I cope if my baby has to stay in neonatal care? If you’ve had a baby who has died, you might wonder if you could endure another loss. Yet there is a good chance you will bring home a healthy, full-term baby ­- the risk of a second premature birth is about 10 to 15 per cent (depending on why it happened in the first place). 

Looking back
Before you conceive, it is a good idea to seek advice from a consultant (ideally one who was involved in your previous pregnancy). Ask your GP to refer you. Questions you might want to ask include:

• Why did I give birth early/have a sick baby last time? 
• What are the chances of it happening again?
• Is there anything you can do to prevent my next baby being premature?

The doctor will go through your notes and in some cases will be able to give you clear answers. For other parents, the cause will never be known but you can still make a plan for your next pregnancy together.

Close monitoring 
You will be monitored closely and your pregnancy may well be consultant-led rather than midwife-led. Extra scans for reassurance might be offered, but if not, don’t be afraid to ask. Depending on your history and what your scans show, you might be offered a cervical stitch, progesterone suppositories or aspirin to help prevent premature labour.

Healthy body, healthy mind 
Eating healthily and staying active are practical steps that you can take to help improve your chances of having a full pregnancy. It is normal to feel anxious - self-help techniques such as meditation or breathing exercises can work. If you still feel anxious, speak to your doctor.