Preterm labor is also known as premature labor. Normally, preterm labor occurs when you begin to experience regular contractions or cervical dilation before the 37 weeks of pregnancy are complete. For a normal delivery, the baby is required to stay in the mother’s womb for 38 to 42 weeks. This much time is essential for the baby to develop his/her organs and tissues. As a result, preterm labor is quite a risky affair. If the labor begins too early, there are chances that the baby might be born prematurely. Moreover, premature birth increases the risk of certain serious health complications and fetal development problems for your baby. Read on to know the signs and symptoms of preterm labor.
Signs And Symptoms of Premature Labor
- More than 5 contractions or cramps in an hour.
- Discharge of bright red blood from vagina.
- Swelling or puffiness on face or hands. It is a sign of pre-eclampsia (a medical condition where hypertension arises in pregnancy, in association with significant amounts of protein in the urine).
- Pain experienced during urination. This can be due to urinary tract, bladder or kidney infection.
- Sharp or prolonged pain in stomach (pre-eclampsia sign)
- Acute or continuous vomiting (pre-eclampsia signs)
- Sudden gush of clear, watery fluid from your vagina.
- Low, dull backache.
- Intense pelvic pressure.
Risk Factors Associated With Preterm Labor
- Infection (urinary tract, amnionitis, systemic, sexually transmitted)
- Uterine anomalies, fibroids, retained IUD
- Cervical abnormalities: short or funnel shaped
- Overdistended uterus: polyhydramnios (too much fluid), multifetal gestation.
- Rupture of membranes
- Uterine bleeding: abruption, previa
- Substance abuse: cocaine, amphetamine, smoking
Fetal Risk Factors
- Congenital anomalies
- Intrauterine death
- Multifetal gestation
Preventing Preterm Labor
There are some conditions that can lead you towards premature labor, which are to be prevented. Below given are some suggestions to avoid premature labor.
Guard Against Vaginal Infections
Vaginal infections remain a common cause of untimely labor. Infections like yeast, bacterial vaginosis, etc can result in premature labor. If the symptoms of a vaginal infection are evident, they should be checked out by a doctor and treated at the earliest. This can help in significantly reducing the risk of premature rupture of the membranes (PROM) and premature contractions.
Keep Your Fluid Levels High
One of the preventions against preterm labor is keeping your body well hydrated. More care should be observed during the summer months. The concentration of oxytocin can mount in your blood, when you are dehydrated. Consequentially, contractions are caused, which can lead to premature labor. Therefore, drink plenty of water and do not wait to feel thirsty to drink fluids. Also, make sure your fluid intake is sufficient during the summer season.
Be Regular With Prenatal Appointments
You may be considering the indicators of premature labor as normal symptoms experienced during pregnancy. It is very important to keep prenatal appointments regular, which will help your gynecologist detect any risk of preterm labor, if at all it exists. Early treatment will guard against the further development of the signs.