Preterm labor occurs when regular contractions end in the opening of your cervix after week 20 and before week 37 of pregnancy.
Preterm labor can result in premature birth. The earlier premature birth happens, the greater the health risks for your baby. Many premature babies (preemies) need special care within the neonatal medical care unit. Preemies also can have long-term mental and physical disabilities.
The specific explanation for preterm labor often isn't clear. Certain risk factors might increase the prospect of preterm labor, but preterm labor also can occur in pregnant women with no known risk factors.
Signs and symptoms of preterm labor include:
Ø Regular or frequent sensations of abdominal tightening (contractions)
Ø Constant low, dull backache
Ø A sensation of pelvic or lower abdominal pressure
Ø Mild abdominal cramps
Ø Vaginal spotting or light bleeding
Ø A change in type of vaginal discharge — watery, mucus-like or bloody
When to see a doctor
If you experience these signs or symptoms or you're concerned about what you are feeling , contact your health care provider directly . Don't worry about mistaking Braxton-Hicks contraction for the important thing. Everyone will be pleased if it's a false alarm.
Preterm labor can affect any pregnancy. Many factors are related to an increased risk of preterm labor, however, including:
Ø Previous preterm labor or premature birth, particularly in the most recent pregnancy or in more than one previous pregnancy
Ø Pregnancy with twins, triplets or other multiples
Ø Shortened cervix
Ø Problems with the uterus or placenta
Ø Smoking cigarettes or using illicit drugs
Ø Certain infections, particularly of the amniotic fluid and lower genital tract
Ø Some chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune disease and depression
Ø Stressful life events, such as the death of a loved one
Ø Too much amniotic fluid (polyhydramnios)
Ø Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
Ø Presence of a fetal birth defect
Ø An interval of less than 12 months — or of more than 59 months — between pregnancies
Ø Age of mother, both young and older
Ø Black, non-Hispanic race and ethnicity
Complications of preterm labor include delivering a premature baby . This can pose variety of health concerns for your baby, like low birth weight, breathing difficulties, underdeveloped organs and vision problems. Children who are born prematurely also have a higher risk of cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and behavioral problems.
You might not be able to prevent preterm labor — but there's much you can do to promote a healthy, full-term pregnancy. For example:
Seek regular prenatal care - Prenatal visits can help your health care provider monitor your health and your baby's health. Mention any signs or symptoms that concern you. If you've got a history of preterm labor or develop signs or symptoms of preterm labor, you would possibly got to see your health care provider more often during pregnancy.
Eat a healthy diet - Healthy pregnancy outcomes are generally associated with good nutrition. In addition, some research suggests that a diet high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) is associated with a lower risk of premature birth. PUFAs are found in nuts, seeds, fish and seed oils.
Avoid risky substances - If you smoke, quit. Ask your health care provider about a smoking cessation program. Illicit drugs are off-limits, too.
Consider pregnancy spacing - Some research suggests a link between pregnancies spaced but six months apart, or quite 59 months apart, and an increased risk of premature birth. Consider lecture your health care provider about pregnancy spacing.
Be cautious when using assisted reproductive technology (ART) - If you're getting to use ART to urge pregnant, consider what percentage embryos are going to be implanted. Multiple pregnancies carry a better risk of preterm labor.
Manage chronic conditions - Certain conditions, like diabetes, high vital sign and obesity, increase the danger of preterm labor. Work with your health care provider to keep any chronic conditions under control.
If your health care provider determines that you're at increased risk of preterm labor, he or she might recommend taking additional steps to scale back your risk.
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