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Premature Labor

Preterm Labor and Childbirth

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Preterm or premature labor happens when you go into labor before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. This is too early for your baby to be born. Babies born too soon can have lifelong or life-threatening health.

Almost 500,000 babies are born prematurely in the U.S. each year according to the March Of Dines. Preterm labor can happen to any pregnant woman, even if she does everything she can to have a healthy pregnancy. The best way to protect your baby is to know the signs of preterm labor and what to do if you have any of them.

The best thing a pregnant woman can do to avoid premature labor to educate herself on the signs and symptoms of pre term labor.

What Is Preterm Labor?
Preterm or premature labor happens when you go into labor before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. This is too early for your baby to be born. Babies born too soon can have lifelong or life-threatening health.

Warning Signs of Preterm Labor

  • Contractions (your abdomen tightens like a fist) every 10 minutes or more often
  • Change in vaginal discharge (leaking fluid or bleeding from your vagina)
 
Additional Signs May Be:
  • Pelvic pressure—the feeling that your baby is pushing down
  • Low, dull backache
  • Cramps that feel like your period
  • Abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea

What Should I Do If I Think I'm Having Preterm Labor?
Call your health care provider (nurse, doctor or midwife) or go to the hospital right away if you think you're having preterm labor, or if you have any of the warning signs. Call even if you have only one sign.

Your health care provider may tell you to: 

  • Come into the office or go to the hospital for a checkup.
  • Stop what you're doing. Rest on your left side for one hour.
  • Drink 2-3 glasses of water or juice

If the symptoms get worse or do not go away after one hour, call your health care provider or go to the hospital.

 
Are You At Risk For Preterm Labor?- Researchers continue to study preterm labor and birth. They have identified some risk factors, but still cannot predict which women will give birth too early. Having a risk factor does not mean a woman will have preterm labor or preterm birth. It means she is more likely to have preterm labor or birth than other women

Drugs Used During Preterm Labor- Three kinds of drugs are given to women who are having preterm labor. Learn about the different drugs used to stop preterm labor and the possible side effects for mom and baby.

What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk of Having a Premature Baby?- Great tips and ideas on things you can do to help reduce the risks of having premature labor.

 


 
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