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Signs of premature labor: symptoms and causes

 

Signs of premature labor: symptoms and causes

Signs of premature labor: symptoms and causes

Contents of the article

  • Braxton-Hicks contractions
  • Symptoms of early labor
  • Stopping preterm labor
  • Prevention of premature labor

 

You may have previously heard that, as the due date approaches, you will feel your uterus contractions at times as it grows and stretches and begins preparing for the birth. These are called Braxton-Hicks contractions and are completely normal.

However, about 10 percent of pregnant women experience premature contractions. Unlike Braxton-Hicks contractions, prenatal contractions are the real and expected contractions. They indicate that you will give birth before your baby is ready for labor.

How can you tell the difference between Braxton-Hicks and premature labor contractions? You can see the difference through the frequency of contractions, the intensity, and the duration. Here is information about these contractions:

Braxton-Hicks contractions

You will see Braxton Hicks contractions in the third trimester. These contractions may look like a general contraction of the womb, as if it is swelling or as if the baby is turning over in your stomach. Usually, these contractions are not painful and usually stop after about one hour. Although all women experience Braxton Hicks contractions, some do not feel them, especially with their first child. So, don't be alarmed if you never test it.

Symptoms of early labor

Contractions of preterm labor can happen any time between the 27th and 37th week of pregnancy. The contractions don't stop, and they may become more frequent, regular, and tired over time.

Signs of preterm labor to watch out for:

  • Cramps such as menstrual pain over the pubic bone
  • Painful pressure or pain in the pelvis, thighs or groin
  • Lethargy, lower back pain or pressure on the back
  • Intestinal cramping or diarrhea
  • Increase in vaginal secretions
  • Watery fluid, pink or brownish discharge, or blood flowing from the vagina

If you experience any of these symptoms or more than four contractions per hour, call your health care professional immediately. Your health care professional may ask you to come to have a test or schedule your contractions. You can feel the contractions (as if your womb is contracting and relaxing) by gently placing your fingertips on your stomach.

Stopping preterm labor

If your early labor starts, your health care professional will suggest ways to stop it, such as rest in bed and drink plenty of fluids.

If the contractions continue, you may be admitted to the hospital for a close watch by a healthcare professional.

Prevention of premature labor

You can also take precautions that may help you prevent preterm labor.

  • Drink 250 milliliters of juice or water every two hours to prevent yourself from dehydration, which may "irritate" your womb even more.
  • Eat a healthy diet and gain between 11 and 16 kilograms during your pregnancy
  • Always wipe from front to back after urinating or after a bowel movement, to avoid getting a UTI.
  • Sit up and raise your legs about every hour, and don't lift heavy objects.
  • Stop exercising and take a break if you experience contractions that don't stop within a short period of time.
  • Avoid feeling anxious.

The possibility of preterm labor is scary, but most women just experience Braxton Hicks contractions.

Take good care of yourself and call your health care professional if you feel anything wrong.

 

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