Preterm Labor

Preterm Labor

Preterm labor is defined as regular contractions of the uterus resulting in changes in the cervix prior to 37 weeks of gestation and typically occurs between 20 and 37 weeks. Preterm babies may need to be cared for in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for weeks and sometimes months. If a baby is born preterm, they can be born with health issues and learning disabilities that may appear later in life.

Risk Factors Include:

  • Previous preterm birth
  • Short cervix
  • Procedures to the cervix (laser/LEEP)
  • Multiple pregnancy (twins)
  • Lifestyle factors such as smoking during pregnancy and substance abuse during pregnancy
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Vaginal infections
  • Urinary tract infections

Symptoms Include:

  • Regular or frequent abdominal tightening
  • Low or constant dull backache
  • Pelvic pressure
  • Abdominal cramping with or without diarrhea
  • Spotting or light bleeding
  • Early rupture of membranes, which can be a small trickle or gush
  • Change in vaginal discharge

Treatment Includes:

  • Limited activity
  • Bed rest
  • Hospitalization
  • Medications to help stop the contractions
  • Corticosteroids may be given if it looks like you may have the baby early. This will help with lung maturity in the baby.

Things to Do for a Healthy Pregnancy:

  • Regular prenatal care and visits
  • Healthy eating
  • Healthy lifestyle
  • Be aware of symptoms of preterm labor
  • Follow the advice of your doctor
  • Call with questions or concerns
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