Pregnancy is a beautiful period of a woman’s life, but with happiness it also carries uncertainties. Usually, a female does not face many issues during her gestational period, but some women can face issues such as Preterm Labor also known as Premature Labor.
Preterm Labor is a condition when a woman’s body starts getting ready for labor too early in the pregnancy, i.e., it starts more than three weeks early of your due date.
Note: A normal gestational period is 40 weeks. Therefore, premature labor is when labor begins before 37 weeks.
Sometimes preterm labor can cause the early birth of the baby, but it’s not bound to happen in every case. The progression in the field of medicine has given the specialist doctor the ways to deal with these situations and delay the birth and carry it to full term. The experts try to delay the delivery as it is always best for the baby to grow inside the body to the full term to ensure the child is born healthy.
Early Birth of a baby due to Preterm Labor can cause some serious issues for the baby after the birth.
Problems associated with the premature infant are:
- Breathing issues (under development of lungs)
- High risk of infections
- Hard to maintain body temperature
- Digestion issues
- Feeding problems
Who is at risk?
Approximately one in three preemies are delivered for medical reasons. But there are other cases where a woman goes into early labor. Following women are at high risk of premature labor:
- had given birth to a premature baby in her previous pregnancy
- bearing more than one child (twins or triplets etc.)
- whose mother used medicines like diethylstilbestrol when she was pregnant with her
- with an abnormality in the shape of cervix and uterus
- had cone biopsy of the cervix
- younger than 17 and older than 35
- with IUD left in place during pregnancy
- who is underweight or overweight as weight plays a significant role in a healthy pregnancy
- got pregnant soon after giving birth to a child
- continues smoking illegal drugs
- who had a miscarriage in the second trimester of her pregnancy
- with three or more abortions
- with heart disease pre-eclampsia, diabetes, and other medical conditions are also more prone to this condition.
- with a cervical infection like gonorrhea trichomoniasis etc.
- going through sleeping disorder
- poor lifestyle habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol
- expecting a baby who has certain birth defects
- with a history of preterm labor
- who is not getting proper prenatal care
Symptoms of Premature Labor
To avoid this situation, you should be able to identify the symptoms. Following are some of the alarming signs:
- A severe backache especially in the lower back. This can be constant or irregular.
- Contraction (tightening or hardening of the uterus) in every 10 to 20 minutes or more.
- Cramps in the lower abdomen which is more like menstrual cramps.
- High pelvic pressure feeling
- Virginal Bleeding
- Dense liquid coming out of a vagina
- Elevated vaginal discharge
- Feelings of vomiting or diarrhea
- Sleeplessness sometimes may be the reason as a body needs sufficient rest to have a healthy pregnancy.
How to check for contraction?
The most accurate way for spotting preterm labor is:
- Placing your fingertips on the abdomen.
- You might be able to feel your uterus tightening and softening. This means you are having contractions.
- Note down the time gap between two consecutive contractions by writing down the starting time of one contraction and then the beginning of the next one.
- You can try stopping the contraction by –
- changing your posture like lying towards the left side
- try avoiding lying flat on your back
- emptying the bladder
- getting up on your feet
- having several glasses of water
- Contact your doctor if you have contractions after every 10 or more mins, or the pain is severe and getting worse.
When to consult your doctor?
If you have any doubt of having a preterm labor, rush to the hospital. The doctor may require some information and check certain things:
- your medication details (medicines you are taking during pregnancy) and other medical histories
- check for fetal fibronectin, which can help in predicting the risk of preterm labor
- do checkups including blood pressure temperature and pulse etc.
- check baby’s heart rate
- check your contractions with the help of a monitor
- monitor the opening of the Cervix
Treatment if you have Premature Labors
In case the doctors are confident you are going through the condition, he may start the treatment. Following treatment may be required:
- Medications to relax the uterus
- Drugs to stop labor
- Various Antibiotics
- IV fluids
- Medication to fasten the development your baby’s lungs
Preterm Labor is a condition that may give a mother some scare but with the continuous advancements in the field of medicine it can be controlled or delayed. A woman can also reduce the chances of going into early labor by knowing about the various risk factors and symptoms leading to the condition