Premature labour or preterm labour can be prevented if healthy lifestyle is followed and right care is taken during pregnancy. Learn more about the causes and symptoms of premature labour and some tips for preventing it.
The labour that takes place before the 37th week of pregnancy is termed as preterm labour or premature labour. Premature babies are generally born with the low birth weight and are extremely delicate. So, delivering the baby before the term may call for special care and attention for the newborn.
What are the odds of delivering before term?
Only about 8% deliveries take place before the 37th week. And 3 out of 4 occur in high risk cases. Medical sciences have made huge strides in preventing preterm labour. However, the more risk factors in a woman's case history, the greater the odds. Learning about the symptoms of premature labour and regular contact with your doctor will certainly help.
If and when labour does begin, the delivery can even be delayed until the baby is more mature. Each additional day that the baby is held in the uterus, improves its chances of survival and health.
What are the symptoms of premature labour?
Pain or pressure in the lower back
Pressure in the pelvic floor or thighs
A vaginal discharge that is watery, pinkish and brownish
Menstrual-like cramps, nausea, diarrhoea or indigestion
A rupture of membranes in your vagina
I am still in my 8th month and getting contractions. Is it premature labour?
If it is accompanied by pain, a vaginal discharge and you get more than four in an hour, you could be in for premature labour. If not, then these are Braxton-Hicks contractions. Your uterus is having a sort of a practice session for the real thing. This normally starts from the 10th week and could last anywhere between 30 seconds and 2 minutes. In the 9th month, these contractions become more frequent and intense and could even be mistaken for the beginning of real labour. You must try to lie down and relax or get up and walk around.
What are the causes of premature labour?
While the causes behind premature labour may not be ascertained all the time, here are some probable causes that you may look for when you experience contractions at an early stage.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking
Use of drugs, alcohol and smoking put you to risk of miscarriage. These habits increase chances of your baby coming out early. Problems like low birth weight also arise when you have such poor lifestyle choices in pregnancy.
Gap between Two Pregnancies
If the gap between your 2 pregnancies is less you are at increased risk of premature labour. The longer the gap between two pregnancies the less are the risk factors associated.
Vaginal or Uterine Infections
Vaginal or uterine infections like STDs, bacterial vaginosis (BV) andtrichomoniasis also increase chances of preterm labour. Inflammation in these cases results in release of prostaglandins that is also responsible for initiating labour in full term. Urinary tract infections when left untreated can result in premature labour.
Anomalies of Cervix and Uterus
An extremely large or malformed uterus with structural abnormalities can make it difficult for you to carry your baby. Abnormalities with the uterus too can bring many complications in pregnancy.
Infection in gums resulting from hormonal imbalances in pregnancy can result in preterm labour. Growth of bacteria causes inflammation in gums that travels to the bloodstream and enters the foetus. This whole process initiates preterm labour. The bacteria causing inflammation can also produces inflammation in the uterus and cervix that can initiate early labour.
Increased Stress Levels
Too much of emotional stress caused by the hormonal surges can trigger early contractions. Stress resulting from too much of work can also be linked with preterm labour. Those working for long hours orexperiencing too much of physical stress is prone to deliver early.
Maternal age is also a factor. If you are more than 35 years, your chances of a preterm delivery are higher. This is the reason why the older women tend to experience "high risk" pregnancies more.
Mother Born as Premature Baby
If you were yourself preterm there are chances of you experiencing preterm labour as well. According to a study conducted in 2015, women who were born prematurely were exposed to greater risks of giving birth to premature babies.
Other Health Complications
Preeclampsia, gestational diabetes or too much of amniotic fluid are some other conditions that increase chances of premature labour. Some other conditions such as placental abruption, placenta Previa can also increase likelihood of an early delivery.
How to prevent premature labour?
Even the smallest premature baby can be treated these days by virtue of advanced medical sciences. Eventhough things may not be in your hand always, here are some things you can do to keep at bay such risk factors. Take a look:
Ensure that there is a gap of at least 18 months between 2 pregnancies.
See your doctor regularly and ensure good prenatal care.
You must keep a close watch on your weight. You are putting your pregnancy at risk if you are gaining too little or too much weight.
Taking the prenatal supplements as prescribe by your doctor is highly essential. You as well as your baby benefits from the supplements along with healthy diets.
You need to keep in mind that even if you are experiencing any of above mentioned symptoms of it does not necessarily mean you shall be going through preterm labour. Again, even if you do not experience any of the symptoms above that too does not mean that you will not get into preterm labour. But if you experience any such signs, you must report to your doctor immediately.
What is premature or preterm labour? Is it possible to prevent premature or preterm labour? What are the causes of premature or preterm labour? Discuss here.
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- The Indiaparenting Team