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.
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.’
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
I am once again emphasizing that you need to be extra attentive and vigilant.
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#pregnancymustknow