Do You Know the Signs of Preterm Labor?

Prematurity Awareness

Every year, upwards of 380,000 babies are born preterm—this is any baby born before 37 weeks of gestation. Preterm birth can lead to life-threatening conditions, developmental delays, and even infant death.

If you’re pregnant or you know someone who is pregnant, you should know the signs of preterm labor. They are as follows:

·         Change in your vaginal discharge (watery, mucus or bloody) or more vaginal discharge than usual

·         Pressure in your pelvis or lower belly, like your baby is pushing down

·         Constant low, dull backache

·         Belly cramps with or without diarrhea

·         Regular or frequent contractions that make your belly tighten like a fist. The contractions may or may not be painful.

·         Your water breaks

Check out this video to hear from a doctor.

Some of these signs may be hard to differentiate from general pregnancy discomfort. That’s why it’s important to listen to your body and check with your doctor, even if you think it may be nothing. By catching preterm labor early, you and your doctor can prepare to have the most successful birth possible.

While preterm labor can sometimes happen seemingly without cause, there are ways that you can prevent it. Begin prenatal care at the first sign of pregnancy. Avoid alcohol, smoking, and illegal drugs while pregnant. Stay hydrated—especially if you work long hours on your feet. If you can, lower your stress levels—this is easier said than done; remember that there are resources available to you to help you along the way.

Special thanks to the March of Dimes and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for their clear, informative websites.