Preterm Labour

Preterm labour is an issue affecting many pregnant women, and it is vital to be aware of the risks associated with it. It occurs when a woman goes into labour before her 37th week of pregnancy and can cause serious health issues for both the mother and child. Preterm labour can occur without warning, but certain factors can increase its likelihood such as smoking, obesity or previous preterm birth. Knowing how to identify and respond to the warning signs of preterm labour is essential for all expectant mothers.

What is Preterm Labour?

Preterm labour is the onset of labour before 37 weeks of pregnancy. It can happen gradually or suddenly, with contractions and effacement of the cervix. This can lead to premature birth, which carries risks to the baby such as low birth weight, breathing problems and disability. Preterm labour can be caused by infection, a weakened cervix, high blood pressure in the mother, or stress. It is important to seek medical advice if any signs of preterm labour are present such as regular contractions, lower back pain or fluid loss. If preterm labor is detected early enough it can be stopped with medication and monitored closely by a doctor.

What are the different types of Preterm Labour?

There are various types of Preterm labour. These include spontaneous preterm labour, medically indicated preterm labour, and preterm premature rupture of membranes. Spontaneous preterm labour is when labour begins on its own before 37 weeks gestation, whilst medically indicated preterm labour occurs when the doctor suggests a delivery before 37 weeks due to medical reasons. Preterm premature rupture of membranes is when the amniotic sac breaks open before 37 weeks gestation.

What symptoms suggest that you may require Preterm Labour?

The key symptoms of Preterm labour are regular uterine contractions, lower backache, abdominal cramps, pelvic pressure and/or discomfort, bloody vaginal discharge and an increase in vaginal secretions. Other signs to look out for include abdominal pain or shortness of breath with or without chest pain. Women may also experience a change in the type of vaginal discharge and it may become watery or mucus-like. Uterine contractions can be felt before any other symptom appears; these may start out mild but become stronger over time.

Who qualifies for Preterm Labour?

Preterm labour is when a baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. It can occur in any pregnancy and there are no specific risk factors that make it more likely. However, those who have had preterm labour before, women with multiple pregnancies, those with cervical weakness or uterine abnormalities, and women who have had fertility treatments may be more at risk of preterm labour. Additionally, women with certain medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, as well as women who smoke or use drugs are also more likely to experience preterm labour.


Preterm labour is a serious, but treatable, medical condition that can arise during pregnancy. Treatment varies on a case-by-case basis and may include medications, lifestyle changes, and other interventions to help manage the symptoms and reduce the risk of complications for both mother and baby. With careful management and timely intervention, preterm labour can be successfully treated with minimal disruption to the pregnancy. By working closely with their doctor or midwife, expecting mothers can ensure they receive the best possible care throughout their pregnancy.

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1. What are the risk factors associated with preterm labour?

Preterm labour may likely occur in women who have experienced it before, those carrying multiple fetuses, or those with a short cervix, a history of urinary tract infections, placenta previa or abruption, or a bacterial infection.

2. What treatments are available for preterm labour?

Treatments for preterm labour vary depending on how far along the pregnancy is and the severity of the labour. Common treatments may include medications to delay delivery, bed rest, hydration therapy to help prevent dehydration caused by contractions, and antibiotics to treat any underlying infections.

3. Is it possible that my baby will need extra care if they are born early?

Yes. Babies born before 37 weeks may require special care to help their organs continue developing so that they can leave the hospital healthy. These babies may need additional oxygen and may be monitored closely for any complications such as underdevelopment of certain organs or low birth weight due to prematurity.

4. How is preterm labour diagnosed?

Preterm labour is typically diagnosed when a pregnant woman experiences three or more uterine contractions in a one hour period. Additionally, the presence of cervical dilation can also indicate preterm labour.

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