6 Signs of Premature Labor

All About Women's Gainesville maternity team help women in North Florida spot and prevent preterm birth

Premature labor, also known as preterm birth, occurs when a baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Between 34 and 37 weeks is the average time when most premature babies are born. These babies are usually healthier than ones born even earlier. Both, however, can face health conditions throughout their life as a result.

In 2014, one in ten infants in the United States were born prematurely. Maternity health professionals are trained to recognize certain signs that indicate a woman may be going into premature labor as well as offer tips to prevent it. Of course, there are times when it can still occur through no fault of your own, which is why visiting an experienced pregnancy care physician is so important.

Going into premature labor does not always mean you will deliver early. Sometimes certain medication, decreased activity, or other doctor-mandated treatments can aid in stopping the birth from happening prematurely.

When a woman begins to experience preterm labor, action must be taken quickly. Some warning signs that you may be experiencing preterm labor and should see your physician immediately include:

  • Contractions less than ten minutes apart
  • Heavy discharge or blood leaking from your vagina
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Increasing pressure in your vagina or pelvic area
  • Severe lower backaches
  • Severe cramping in the lower abdominal area

If you are feeling any of these symptoms, you need to see your obstetrician immediately.

Preventing Preterm Birth

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention:

Preventing preterm birth remains a challenge because the causes of preterm births are numerous, complex, and not always well understood. However, pregnant women can take important steps to help reduce their risk of preterm birth and improve their general health.

Consider the suggestions below to ensure that you’re doing all you can to prevent preterm labor:

  • Schedule regular prenatal checkups. As soon as you become aware of your pregnancy, see a doctor. If you are considering pregnancy or having unprotected sex, you should be taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid. Folic acid may lower your risk of placental abruption, which is when the placenta separates from the uterine wall. Continue prenatal checkups throughout the duration of your pregnancy.

  • Eat right and exercise. Eating a nutritious diet during pregnancy is beneficial to your child’s development. Healthy sources of protein, dairy, whole wheat and a variety of fruits and vegetables are recommended. A doctor recommended pregnancy exercise plan is good for you as well.

  • Watch your weight. Gaining too much weight can increase your chances of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. Healthy weight gain, however, is normal.

  • Get tested. Uterine infections that begin in the lower genital track are known for causing preterm labor. See your doctor immediately if you suspect any type of infection.

  • Know yourself and your risks. Certain women are prone to early delivery such as ones that have delivered early before, women carrying multiples, age thirty five or older, or women that have diabetes or high blood pressure.

  • Quit smoking and alcohol usage. Exposure to alcohol and/or tobacco can be extremely dangerous to the baby and cause early preterm labor. To get help in breaking the smoking habit, please call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or talk to your physician.

Have you found a physician you can trust to help you through your pregnancy?  If not, contact our pregnancy care providers in Gainesville and Lake City to schedule an initial appointment today. We’re here to make sure you and your baby are as healthy and happy as possible.

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