Chances are you’ve heard of the March of Dimes. Have you heard of the March for Babies?

It’s coming up on May 31, as this guest column in yesterday’s Missoulian explains. The piece also has a list of ways to reduce the risk of preterm birth. And here it is!

  • Quit smoking before or early in pregnancy.

  • Eliminate elective deliveries before 39 weeks gestation; in other words, those that are not medically necessary.

  • Exercise regularly, take prenatal vitamins and eat a variety of healthy foods – particularly fruits and vegetables – before and during pregnancy.

  • Promote early access to prenatal care; it serves as a critical tool to educate women on how to take good care of themselves throughout their pregnancy.

  • Early prenatal care, in the first 8-10 weeks, also identifies and manages women’s risk factors and health conditions.

  • Screen for anxiety and depression in early and mid-pregnancy.

  • Support women with substance abuse problems in getting the help they need to stop abusing drugs and alcohol.

  • Educate women on the early warning signs and symptoms of preterm labor so that they seek medical attention early.

  • Encourage the use of stress management and relaxation techniques (stress hormones can increase risk of preterm birth).