By Dr. Anuradha Khurana, Gynaecology
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.
There are numerous causes that increase the risks of preterm labour, such as:
- Being underweight or overweight before pregnancy.
- Less than satisfactory prenatal care.
- Using drugs or drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
- Suffering from health complications, such as infections, blood clotting disorders, diabetes, preeclampsia or high blood pressure.
- Personal or family history of preterm labour.
- Getting pregnant within a small period of time after the first baby.
- Carrying a baby with congenital defects.
- Pregnancy through IVF.
- Carrying twins or multiple babies.
Fortunately, preterm labour can be stopped, you just need to be aware of the signs, so you can contact your doctor or midwife immediately. Signs of preterm labour include:
- Pain in your lower back.
- Frequent contractions (10 minutes apart).
- Lower abdomen cramps (Similar to menstrual cramps).
- Leaking of fluid from the vagina.
- Flu-like symptoms, such as diarrhoea, vomiting or nausea.
- Increased pressure in the vagina or pelvis.
- Elevated vaginal discharge.
- Vaginal bleeding.
If your midwife or doctor diagnoses preterm labour, you may require treatment, which can include:
- Intravenous fluids can be administered.
- Medicines to placate your uterus and bar labour can be administered as well.
- Medicine to accelerate your baby’s lung development is another treatment course.
- Antibiotics are a good way to treat preterm labour.
- Immediate hospital admittance may also be required in such a case.
If your labour cannot be barred and continues, your midwife or doctor will start preparations to deliver the baby.