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Premature Labor

Going into labor prematurely is a fear many pregnant women feel, especially those who have faced premature labor before. Premature labor is defined as labor that starts between the 20th week of pregnancy, when the cervix to begins opening earlier than it should.

There are many signs of premature labor. If caught early enough most are premature labor is painless and it can normally be stopped with treatments that include bed rest, fluids and medications that calm and relax the uterus. The signs of premature labor include:

  • Contractions or tightening of the uterus in a noticeable pattern
  • Lower abdominal cramping that may feel like period cramping
  • Increased pressure in your pelvis or vagina
  • Increased discharge
  • Leaking of fluid
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Decreased fetal movement

If you are further than your seventh month or past your 30th week of pregnancy your baby will more than likely survive with a short stay in the NICU. If born before your 30th week of pregnancy your baby could survive, but will probably need an extensive stay and extra care in the NICU.

If you have signs of premature labor you should call your doctor or midwife immediately to describe to them what is going on. They will either instruct you to come in and be seen, or to lie down and see if the signs fade.

If you have to go to the hospital you will be prepped as if you are in labor, given a gown, and an IV will be started. You will also be hooked up to monitors and will probably have your cervix checked for dilation. If you are in labor and it isn’t too late to stop it, then you may be given medications to stop the contractions. On rare occasions you may be hospitalized for the remainder of your pregnancy, which could be days, weeks or months in duration.

If labor has progressed and cannot be stopped, you will probably be given steroids to help your baby’s lungs quickly mature giving your baby a better chance of survival outside the womb. You will then need to deliver your baby and trust the hospital, your doctor and the NICU staff to take care of both of you until you can both go home.

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11 Comments on "Premature Labor"

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[…] brain and eyes, both during pregnancy and after birth. In addition, DHA may help prevent preterm labor and may help protect against postpartum […]

[…] to her unborn baby through the umbilical cord, causing birth defects, and in some cases, premature birth. In fact, women with high levels of mercury found in the cord blood are 3-5 times more likely […]

[…] brain and eyes, both during pregnancy and after birth. In addition, DHA may help prevent preterm labor and may help protect against postpartum […]

[…] pregnancy, make sure you get regular medical care helping to avoid the chance of having a premature […]

[…] with problems. The most common reason for a baby to be placed in the NICU is because they are born premature, or too early to survive out of the womb on their own. It has special equipment designed to quickly […]

8 years 3 months ago
I will be 35 weeks pregnant on wed. I woke up this morning with my vagina achey it felt like i couldnt sit down when i went pee i wiped and there was pink. but then the more i wiped it started to get red not alot only when i whipe, i havent had to wear a pad but i am worried about the red. and i still havent had any cramping. and i feel the baby moving. i still dont know what to do. its sunday so the doc is closed. and i dont know if i should go… Read more »
8 years 7 months ago
Premature labour is so frightening, I delivered our second baby at 25 weeks. My first was a perfect, normal, drug free, term delivery. The second was an emergency caesarean after severe haemorrhaging from 7 weeks (due to subchorionic hematomas – we also lost his twin) The pain I felt wasn’t as many women have, it was just like the full blown contractions at term. He was breech too, and I had a lot of pressure which was a shock. For all the mums and dads going through this – it is hard, and terrifying. Stay as strong as you can… Read more »

[…] the steroid has lots of other functions as well. It is often used to stop a woman from going into premature labor. It is also used to counteract the effects of […]

amanda lee
9 years 2 months ago

Well I wish I would have read this earlier its 4:06am and I can’t sleep I was amitted to Franklin square hospital yesterday around 10 am I didn’t notice signs like that I went pee and seen pink on the paper so I called my ob gyn and they sent me in they are doing all the things listed and checking on me every hour, plus I have a cathider and its not very compfortable the doctors are great but I miss being home already feel free to email me at

[…] the second trimester or at a rapid rate before the last month of your pregnancy it can be a sign of premature labor. If this is the case your doctor or midwife will advise you on what to do […]

[…] […]

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