Signs and symptoms of Premature Labor
Premature labor is also called preterm labor. It’s when your body starts getting ready for birth too early in your pregnancy. Labor is premature if it starts more than three weeks before your due date
Premature labor can lead to an early birth. But the good news is that doctors can do a lot to delay an early delivery. The longer your baby gets to grow inside you -- right up to your due date -- the less likely he or she is to have problems after birth.
What are the signs and symptoms of preterm labor?
Signs of a condition are things someone else can see or know about you, like you have a rash or you’re coughing. Symptoms are things you feel yourself that others can’t see, like having a sore throat or feeling dizzy.
If you have any of these signs or symptoms before 37 weeks of pregnancy, you may be having preterm labor:
- Change in your vaginal discharge (watery, mucus or bloody) or more vaginal discharge than usual
- Pressure in your pelvis or lower belly, like your baby is pushing down
- Constant low, dull backache
- Belly cramps with or without diarrhea
- Regular or frequent contractions that make your belly tighten like a fist. The contractions may or may not be painful.
- Your water breaks
What should you do if you think you're having preterm labor?
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.
When you see your provider, he may do a pelvic exam or a transvaginal ultrasound to see if your cervix has started to thin out and open for labor. Your cervix is the opening to the uterus (womb) that sits at the top of the vagina (birth canal). A transvaginal ultrasound is done in the vagina instead of on the outside of your belly. Like a regular ultrasound, it uses sound waves and a computer to make a picture of your baby. If you’re having contractions, your provider monitors them to see how strong and far apart they are. You may get other tests to help your provider find out if you really are in labor.
If you’re having preterm labor, your provider may give you treatment to help stop it or to help improve your baby’s health before birth. Talk to your provider about which treatments may be right for you.