Preterm Labor Signs


Preterm labor also means premature labor; this is a very serious pregnancy complication.  Preterm labor can be defined as labor that begins before the 37 weeks gestation period. Women have to understand the signs of premature or preterm labor.  If detected early, it can prevent premature birth and also enable the woman to carry the pregnancy to the full period of nine months and give better survival chance to the baby.

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Signs of Preterm labor

  1. More than five cramps in one hour
  2. Pain  during urination, hinting at urinary tract infection or bladder problem.
  3. Bright red blood from the vagina
  4. Watery fluid gushing suddenly from the vagina.
  5. Intense pelvic pressure.
  6. Backache.

Causes of Preterm Labor

Not all cases of preterm labor can be prevented but through early detection, there is a good chance.  If you are having contractions or cramps, you should stay well hydrated.   It has been seen that cases of preterm labor tend to go up in the summer months. This is because during the dehydration, the volume of blood increases,  leading to a rise in oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is a hormone that causes uterine contractions.  So hydrate yourself by drinking fluids like water and fruit juices to increase blood volume.

Pay attention to signs of infection like yeast infection because they can also cause preterm labor.  Sadly, many women find it embarrassing to discuss yeast infection but they do not now that it can be a possible cause of preterm labor.  So it is better to discuss them with the doctor.

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Other cause s of preterm labor:

  1. Stress
  2. Personal health history
  3. Smoking, drinking, drug use.
  4. Victims of domestic abuse,  sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical violence
  5. Long hours of standing  or long working hours
  6. Exposure to toxins and hazardous environmental products and contaminants.

However, it is not possibly to conclusive tell which women will have preterm birth, though the above are termed as risk factor. But then having a risk factor does not really mean that a woman will have preterm labor, it just means that she has higher risk than other women.  Women who have had previous preterm labor, women who are pregnant with twins and those who have cervical or uterine problems are also risk factors.

Preterm Labor Prevention, Treatment, Management

Some of the things that you can do to prevent and manage preterm labor are the following

  1. Hydration (Oral or IV)
  2. Medications to prevent labor (Magnesium sulfate, brethine, terbutaline, etc.)
  3. Bedrest , usually lying on the left side.
  4. Medication to help prevent infection specially if there is yeast infection, ruptured membrane or contractions triggered by infection
  5. Evaluation of your baby (Biophysical profile,  amniotic fluid volume index (AFI), non-stress or stress tests ultrasound, etc.)
  6. In case, preterm birth is unstoppable, there are medications given to help the baby’s lung develop quickly.

Preparation for preterm birth

The best thing to do to prevent preterm labor is early detection.  Check with your doctor about the signs and symptoms of preterm labor in your case.

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