Preterm Labour: Symptoms and Treatment

When you are pregnant and labour pain arises before 37 weeks, it is known as preterm labour.

There are three subcategories of preterm labour based on the length of pregnancy:

  • extremely preterm (less than 28 weeks).
  • very preterm (28 to 32 weeks).
  • mild to late preterm (32 to 37 weeks).

Babies may be born before their expected date due to sudden preterm labour. Medical reasons could also play a role in early caesarean delivery or labour pain induction.

Preterm labour symptoms

To prevent preterm labour, you must be aware of the warning signs. Contact your doctor right away if you observe any of the following symptoms:

  1. Backache

Backaches may be consistent or irregular. However, it will not go away if you alter positions or do anything else to relieve it.

  1. Contractions

If you are having contractions every ten minutes or more and they are getting stronger and faster, you should see a doctor.

  1. Cramping

You may feel lower abdominal cramps or menstrual cramps. Such cramps might feel like diarrhoea or gas pain.

  1. Flu-like symptoms

If you experience vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, or can't stand liquids for more than eight hours, consult your doctor.

Preterm labour symptoms also include increased pelvic or vaginal pressure, excess vaginal discharge, and light vaginal bleeding.

When should I see a doctor?

If you are less than 37 weeks pregnant and notice any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor:

  • Frequent tightenings or contractions
  • Period-like pains.
  • A spill or leak of fluid from your vagina.
  • An unusual backache.

How do you prevent preterm labour?

Preventing preterm labour is still a challenge. Preterm labour has many complex causes that are rarely understood. On the other hand, pregnant women could take precautions to minimise the risk of preterm labour. Such precautions include:

  • Stay away from drugs and alcohol.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Get prenatal attention as soon as you suspect you're pregnant.
  • Seek medical care if you notice any symptoms of preterm labour.
  • If you have previously experienced preterm labor, consult your doctor about the use of progesterone treatment.

Another step partners could take to lower the threat of preterm labour is to wait at least eighteen months between pregnancies.

Preterm labour treatment

Preterm labour treatment may include:

  1. Bed rest

You can rest at your house or in the health centre.

  1. Tocolytic medications

It aids in the slowing or stopping of contractions. Doctors may inject them directly into the vein.

  1. Corticosteroids

It may aid in the growth and maturation of your child's lungs. Preterm children's lungs might not function on their own.

  1. Cervical cerclage

Doctors use this method to close the cervix. Doctors perform it when the cervix is weak and unable to remain closed.

  1. Antibiotics

Doctors use antibiotics to treat infections.


If you are worried about having preterm labour, talk to your doctor. Your doctor might recommend additional preventive steps to minimise the likelihood of preterm labour.

Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, Bengaluru - Jayanagar. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

1. What is the difference between preterm and normal labour?

Preterm labour occurs in the same manner as normal labour. The only distinction is that preterm labour is shocking and overwhelming at times. You and your partner may be in denial mode if your child isn't due and you are not ready to deliver.

2. What happens at the hospital or nursing home?

At the hospital, the doctors perform tests to determine whether:
1. You are in labour.
2. You are infected.
The tests might include a blood test, a vaginal examination, a urine test, and a cardiotocography to track contractions and the child's heartbeat.

3. How long could doctors postpone preterm labour?

Doctors may delay preterm labour for up to 48 hours using tocolytics (medicine). Tocolytics are given between weeks 22 and 34 of pregnancy if there are no complications. This delay might even allow for a transfer to a hospital that provides specialised care for preterm infants.

4. Which people are at risk for preterm labour?

The majority of preterm labouring women have no known risk factors. However, some factors increase a woman's risk of preterm labour. Some examples include:
1. Smoking
2. Being under the age of 20 or over the age of 35
3. Chronic illnesses, like kidney or heart disease,
4. Using cocaine and other illegal drugs
5. Unusual uterus shape
6. The cervix is unable to close.

5. Is it normal to experience labour before 39 weeks of pregnancy?

During pregnancy, there is significant growth and development, even until the last few weeks. Unless there is a medical reason, you should not deliver before 39 weeks of pregnancy.

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