Stanislaus County Health Services Agency
 

Preterm Labor - How will I know?

 
WHAT IS PRETERM LABOR?

A normal pregnancy lasts 40 weeks. Preterm labor is defined as labor that starts between the 20th week and the 37th week of pregnancy. Babies born this early may not live or may be born with many problems.

Half of the women who go into premature labor do not know why. If you know what to look for maybe you can prevent your baby from being born too early.

HOW WILL I KNOW THAT I AM IN PRETERM LABOR?

Preterm labor may not hurt. If you have any of the warning signs you may be in premature labor. To successfully treat preterm labor it is important to recognize it early.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I THINK I AM IN PRETERM LABOR?

Call your doctor or clinic, or go to the hospital to be checked.

WARNING SIGNS

  • CRAMPS LIKE YOU HAVE WITH YOUR PERIOD. These may come and go or always be there.
  • BACKACHE. Below your waist, usually over your tailbone.
  • LOW PRESSURE. Feels like your baby is pushing down. This may come and go.
  • STOMACH CRAMPS. Feels like you are going to have diarrhea, but may not.
  • MORE OR DIFFERENT VAGINAL DISCHARGE. Mucousy, watery, or a little bloody.
  • UTERINE CONTRACTIONS. 3 or more uterine tightenings in 30 minutes that may or may not hurt.
  • FEELING THAT SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT. Trust how you feel.

REMEMBER: PRETERM LABOR MAY NOT HURT

WHO IS AT RISK?

The following factors may increase your chances of having a preterm baby:

  • Previous preterm labor or delivery.
  • Expecting twins or triplets.
  • Opening or thinning of the cervix before 8 months.
  • Uterine contractions (tightenings) coming 3 or more times in 30 minutes.
  • Uterine abnormalities-incompetent cervix, fibroids, DES daughter.
  • Placenta previa.
  • Kidney or bladder infection during this pregnancy and other infections such as rubella and certain sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Two or more miscarriages or abortions.
  • Smoking or using other drugs.
  • Inadequate nutrition.
  • Overwhelming levels of stress.

IF YOU HAVE ANY OF THESE RISK FACTORS TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR



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