Most pregnancies last about 40 weeks. By definition, a premature birth takes place more than three weeks before the due date.
A premature birth gives a baby less time to develop and mature in the womb. The result is an increased risk of various medical and developmental problems, including trouble breathing and bleeding in the brain. If you go into labor too early, your doctor may try to delay your baby's birth. Even if premature birth is inevitable, a few extra days in the womb can promote significant development.
Although the rate of premature birth seems to be on the rise, there's good news. A healthy lifestyle can go a long way toward preventing preterm labor and premature birth.