Get All The Info You Need On Preterm Pregnancy And Labor

Preterm Pregnancy and Labor

 

Every expecting mother wants a full term pregnancy, hitting the 40-week delivery window. Surprises are not at all welcome during pregnancy. So if signs of preterm labor, such as early-stage contractions, appear weeks in advance of your due date, confusion and panic may set in—and that’s absolutely understandable.

 

Premature labor occurs in about 12% of all pregnancies. About one out of every 10 infants is born prematurely, and being aware of the signs of preterm labor puts you at an advantage in case something does go wrong. Nevertheless, you need to be alert at every point, noticing even the slightest changes in your body.

 

What is Preterm Pregnancy?

 

Preterm Pregnancy is when labor occurs before 37 weeks of pregnancy. You are in premature labor when you undergo contractions as well as changes in the cervix, such as thinning out or dilation. It’s a misconception that contractions alone can indicate premature labor. Many women experience painless contractions toward their due date as the uterus gets ready for labor. But, because it can be tricky to tell the difference between the painless preterm contractions that might happen near the end of your nine months and the typically more painful preterm labor contractions (especially since you need a doctor to diagnose any changes to the cervix), it's smart to call your provider if anything seems ‘out of the blue.’

 

How does Preterm Pregnancy affect the baby?

 

A preterm Pregnancy doesn’t always mean that you will deliver prematurely. However, there is always a risk of preterm birth which increases the chances of the infant to have health complications such as:

 

  • Low birth weight
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Underdeveloped organs
  • An increased risk of vision or hearing problems.
  • A higher chance of behavioral disabilities and learning problems.

If the right treatment is given when you go into preterm labor, there is a good possibility that you will deliver only close to the completion of your term. Also, it is not necessary that all the babies born preterm undergo health complications. Fortunately, research, technology, and medicine have helped improve the health of premature babies.

 

Causes of Preterm labor

 

Experts are also not sure on the definite causes of Preterm labor but, there are certain triggers that increase the risk of it. They are:

 

  • Having a previous preterm birth
  • Being pregnant with twins, triplets or other multiples
  • Smoking or using drugs
  • Being underweight or overweight prior to becoming pregnant
  • Having certain health conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Contracting an infection with a fever greater than 101 degrees F during pregnancy.
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Having a short cervix or past or current problems with the cervix or uterus
  • Being over the age of 35
  • Multiple first trimester abortions or one or more second-trimester abortions.
  • The short time between pregnancies (less than 6-9 months between birth and the beginning of the next pregnancy).
  • Not receiving proper care and rest during pregnancy
  • Domestic violence, including physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.
  • Long working hours with long periods of standing.

 

Sometimes even perfectly healthy women who engage in calming yoga and other meditative practices during their pregnancy also go into preterm labor. It is a good idea to keep a track of the warning signs and symptoms.

 

What does a contraction feel like?

 

One of the most important telling signs of preterm labor is contractions. As the muscles of your uterus contract, you will feel your abdomen harden. As the contraction goes away, your uterus becomes soft. Throughout pregnancy, the layers of your uterus will tighten irregularly, which is usually not painful.

 

These are known as Braxton-Hicks contractions; they are usually irregular and do not open the cervix. If these contractions become regular or more frequent, such as one every 10-12 minutes for at least an hour, they may be premature labor contractions which can cause the cervix to open.

 

If this happens, it is important to contact your health care provider as soon as possible.

 

Warning signs of preterm labor

 

The issue with these signs is that they are often mistaken for regular pregnancy symptoms. But, it is better to speak to your doctor if you notice  any of these symptoms:

 

  • Abdominal cramping or regular contractions (if you’re having four to six contractions an hour, definitely see your doctor)
  • Low back discomfort
  • Pelvic pressure
  • Vaginal spotting or bleeding
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Fluid leakage (this could be a sign that your water broke early)

 

I am once again emphasizing that you need to be extra attentive and vigilant.

 

  • Abdominal cramping or regular contractions (if you’re having four to six contractions an hour, definitely see your doctor)
  • Low back discomfort
  • Pelvic pressure
  • Vaginal spotting or bleeding
  • Vaginal discharge

 

How to prevent preterm labor

 

Sometimes women think it’s their fault if they go into preterm labor. It’s not.

 

Perhaps the best (and only) thing you can do about preventing preterm labor is taking care of yourself-as soon as you decide to expand your family. Hitting a healthy weight, quitting smoking and getting diabetes and blood pressure under control before you conceive will help lower the odds of preterm labor while also improving your health—and baby’s too.

 

Also read: Preterm Labour: Signs And Steps Of Care

 

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