Thursday, September 20, 2001

Emotional stress may
threaten pregnancy

Tension could cause pre-term labor,
warns the March of Dimes

Star-Bulletin staff

THE EMOTIONAL STRESS of dealing with the national terrorist tragedy could lead pregnant women to give birth prematurely, the March of Dimes Chapter of the Pacific warns.

The chapter said it is concerned about the stress levels following the attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and outside Pittsburgh, and it is especially worried about pregnant women because increased stress levels may cause labor to begin too soon.

"We want to remind the community that a threat to our country can also be a threat to susceptible pregnant women," the chapter said.

Pregnant women are advised to call their health care providers immediately if clear, pink or brownish water leaks from their vagina.

Other signs of pre-term labor include cramps that feel like a period; cramps with or without diarrhea; a low, dull backache felt below the waistline; the feeling that the baby is pushing down hard; contractions every 10 minutes; or five or more contractions in one hour.

If those symptoms appear, the affected pregnant woman should stop all activities and rest on her left side for one hour, the March of Dimes advises.

She also should drink at least two or three glasses of water or juice -- not coffee or sodas.

If symptoms worsen or continue for more than one hour, a doctor or nurse should be called. If the symptoms begin to disappear, the woman should relax for the rest of the day.

For specific information on individual risk for pre-term birth, pregnant women and their families should call their health care providers.

For general information or brochures on pre-term labor, call the March of Dimes at 973-2155 or, from neighbor islands, 800-272-5240.

For more information on pregnancy, visit or call the March of Dimes Resource Center at 888-MODIMES.

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