PRETERM LABOR- Overview, Facts, Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Medications
PRETERM LABOR-Watsons Health


Preterm labor occurs after week 20 and before week 37 of pregnancy with regular contractions and often results to the opening of the cervix.

Preterm labor can result in premature birth. Premature babies have greater health risks. Many premature babies (preemies) need to be placed in the neonatal intensive care unit for special care and attention. Some other preemies can also have long-term mental and physical disabilities.

Preterm labor has an unknown cause, and it may occur in pregnant women with or without known risk factors.



Signs and symptoms of preterm labor include:

  • Regular contractions
  • Low and dull backache
  • Mild abdominal cramps
  • Vaginal spotting or light bleeding
  • Preterm rupture of membranes
  • A sensation of pelvic or lower abdominal pressure
  • A change in type of vaginal discharge — watery, mucus-like or bloody


Your medical history and risk factors for preterm labor, as well as your signs and symptoms will be evaluated by your doctor.

Tests and procedures to diagnose preterm labor include:

  • Pelvic exam.Your doctor will evaluate the firmness and tenderness of your uterus,as well as the baby’s size and position.
  • A transvaginal ultrasound might be used to measure the length of your cervix.
  • Uterine monitoring.Your health care provider might use a uterine monitor to measure the duration and spacing of your contractions.
  • Lab tests.Your health care provider might take a swab of your vaginal secretions to check for the presence of certain infections and mucus plug.



Once you’re in labor, there are no medications or surgical procedures to stop labor. However, your doctor might recommend the following medications:

  • Injection of potent steroids to speed your baby’s lung maturity.
  • Magnesium reduce the risk of a specific type of damage to the brain (cerebral palsy).
  • This willtemporarily stop your contractions.

Surgical procedures like cervical cerclage (cervix is stitched closed with strong sutures) might be recommended to prevent preterm labor. This is given if your cervix is less than 25 millimeters and if you’re less than 24 weeks pregnant.

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