Signs of Premature Labor: What to Look Out For

Preterm birth, or labor that occurs before the 37th week of pregnancy, is a serious health concern for both mother and baby. While the exact causes of preterm birth are not yet known, certain factors may increase a woman's risk. It is important to be aware of the signs of preterm labor so that care can be sought early if they occur. The most common signs of preterm labor include mild abdominal cramps, with or without diarrhea, and a change in the type of vaginal discharge, such as watery, bloody, or runny.

Other symptoms may include a feeling that the uterus is “breaking”, and a drip of liquid from the vagina. Women with premature birth and early cervical dilation may be advised to stay in bed until their pregnancy progresses. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to contact your healthcare provider right away. They may offer you a course of steroid injections to help your baby's lungs prepare for breathing if they are born prematurely.

It is also possible that you and your baby may need to be transferred to another hospital with specialized facilities for premature babies. Preterm birth can be prevented if the warning signs are known and care is sought early if they occur. Your midwife and doctor will discuss with you the benefits and risks of continuing your pregnancy instead of having your baby born prematurely. Babies born prematurely are at greater risk of brain and other neurological complications, as well as respiratory and digestive problems.

Knowing the symptoms and avoiding certain risk factors can help reduce the chances of giving birth prematurely.

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