During pregnancy one thing that definitely runs through your mind at least once is going into preterm labor. Today we will go over the signs to look for and the steps you should take if you think you are in preterm labor.
What is preterm labor?
Preterm labor is when labor begins prior to 37 weeks. Sometimes preterm labor cannot be stop and then it is a preterm birth.
Signs and symptoms of preterm labor
- Five or more contractions in one hour.
- Increased vaginal discharge, mucus or blood.
- Pain and pressure in your lower abdomen that doesn't subside with rest, stretching and water.
- Back pain that is constant or comes and goes in a pattern. Usually worsening as time goes on.
- Your water breaks.
If you experience any of the above symptoms call your doctor right away. They will guide you into your next steps.
What happens if it is preterm labor?
If you are in fact in preterm labor your provider will discuss a few options with you. Common options are..
- If your provider does not plan to stop the labor or they cannot they may give you a shot called Antenatal Corticosteroid (ACS) to help develop your baby's lungs and brain.
- Tocolytics may be given to slow or stop contractions giving your baby more time to grow or giving the ACS time to work.
- Bed rest may be advised either at home or in hospital depending on your situation. There is not concrete evidence that bed rest helps but it may be a good idea to take it easy either way.
- Progesterone is a hormone that plays a key role during pregnancy. Progesterone is used for specific situations is ask your doctor if it's right for you.
- Cerclage is a stick placed in your cervix to keep it closed. This is used when a woman has a short cervix to help it hold the baby in.
If you in fact do have your baby early they might have to spend some time in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). This is a specific area in the hospital where babies go and receive around the clock care. Some hospitals do not have a NICU so if you are at risk of preterm labor this is something that you want to make sure your hospital provides. If you go into preterm labor you may be transferred to a hospital with a NICU. Discussing your Doctors protocol and options incase of preterm labor may be a good idea to be prepared!