The following signs of premature labour can also be a very normal part of pregnancy. Therefore, if you feel you are experiencing a symptom, try to determine whether this represents a change in the pattern of your pregnancy or whether it has been a normal occurrence for you.
- Contractions or cramps, more than 5 in one hour
- Bright red blood
- Swelling or puffiness of the face or hands, a sign of preeclampsia
- Pain during urination, possible urinary tract, bladder or kidney infection
- Sharp or prolonged pain in your stomach (pre-eclampsia signs)
- Acute or continuous vomiting (pre-eclampsia signs)
- Sudden gush of clear, watery fluid
- Low, dull backache
- Intense pelvic pressure
What should I do if I think I am experiencing premature labour?
If you suspect you are having signs and symptoms of premature labour call your hospital immediately. This can be a frightening time for you but there are some ways you can help to prevent premature labour by becoming aware of the symptoms and following the following:
- Empty your bladder
- Lie down tilted towards your left side; this may slow down or stop signs and symptoms
- Avoid lying flat on your back; this may cause the contractions to increase
- Drink several glasses of water because dehydration can cause contractions
- Monitor contractions for one hour by counting the minutes that elapse from the beginning of one contraction to the beginning of the next
If symptoms get worse, or don’t go away after one hour, call or go to the hospital. When you call your hospital, be sure to mention that you are worried about premature labour. The only sure way to know if you are in premature labour is by examination of your cervix. If your cervix is opening up, premature labour could be starting.
If labour is determined
If preterm labour is determined, there are a number of treatments that can be used to stop or delay the labour. These include bed rest, hydration and administration of Turbutaline or Magnesium Sulfate.
If it appears that birth is imenent and the baby is between 24 and 34 weeks gestation, a corticosteroid may be given to the mother 24 hours before birth in an attempt to increase the baby’s lung and brain development.
Although bed rest, fluids and labour-inhibiting medications including steroids may be prescribed, these attempts often merely offer a short delay in the delivery to allow physicians to speed the development of the baby’s lungs and, if necessary, transfer the mother to a hospital that is better equipped for premature babies, such as one with a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
What impact does premature labour have on my pregnancy?
The longer your baby is in the womb, the better the chance he or she will be healthy. Babies who are born prematurely are at higher risks for brain and other neurological complications, as well as breathing and digestive problems. Some premature babies grow up with a developmental delay, and/or have learning difficulties in school. The earlier in pregnancy a baby is born, the more health problems are likely to develop.
Premature labour does not always result in premature delivery. Some women with premature labour and early dilation of the cervix are sometimes put on bed rest until the pregnancy progresses further.
ehealthMD – retrieved May 2007
American Pregnancy Association - retrieved May 2007
The National Premmie Foundation
The subject matter provided in these articles is strictly for informational purposes alone and should never be used in the place of a doctor’s advice. Please ALWAYS contact your doctor if you ever have questions or need advice in any area where medical advice is needed or medication is suggested.