Pregnancy lasts for nine months and that is about 36 weeks. Term delivery is anytime between 37-40 weeks of pregnancy. There are possibilities of birth before the 37th week of pregnancy. Delivery between 30th to 36th weeks or simply three weeks before due date is known as preterm delivery.
Labor is the process in which fetus and placenta get ready to leave the uterus. Its onset is signified by abdominal pain with cramps or back pain.
The cervix starts to dilate with contractions. It needs to dilate 8 to 10 cm for birthing to start. It is then followed by water breaking (amniotic fluid sac ruptures). Sometimes water may break before you start experiencing contractions.
If cervix starts to dilate or water breaks before 37th week then it is preterm labor.
Sometimes there are false labor pains also known as Braxton Hicks Contractions. These can be described as tightening in the abdomen that comes and goes. These contractions are in intervals that do not decrease with time, do not increase in how long they last or how often they occur and do not feel stronger over time. They often come with a change of position and stop with rest.
Contractions during true labor come at regular intervals and interval tends to decrease with passing time. Each contraction lasts for about 20-30 seconds. True labor does not go away by walking and feel like menstrual cramps. It is accompanied by dilation of the cervix.
There are certain changes you need to keep observing to confirm it is true labor. If you find any of the following indicators, you need to rush to your doctor. The doctor performs a pelvic test or transvaginal ultrasound to confirm cervix dilation.
If you have even one sign or symptom of preterm labor, call your health care provider right away. If you have preterm labor, getting help quickly is the best thing you can do. And even if it is not preterm labor, it’s always good to confirm it by a doctor and rule out ant mishap.
Delivering the premature baby is the last options doctors opt for, as the organs are not fully developed and baby experiences difficulty in breathing. Medical equipment and intensive care are required for preemies. Sometimes just by walking, preterm labor stops. Other options that may help to postpone untimely delivery are:
It is done if the mother has a short cervix and previous preterm birth.
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