Everything You Need To Know About Premature Labor

2018.05.10 12

When a baby is born early, it is known as ‘prematurity’. Most pregnancies last around 40 weeks and babies born between 37 and 42 weeks are considered full-term. Babies that are born before 37 weeks are considered premature. In most cases labor starts by itself, and the signs will usually be the same as labor that starts at full term. HaoppyMom.Life is telling you everything you need to know about premature labor. 

Having Your Baby Early

If your baby is likely to be delivered early, you will be admitted to a hospital with specialist facilities for premature babies. This is known as a neonatal unit.Babies born before 34 weeks may need extra help with breathing, feeding and keeping warm.

Not all hospitals have facilities for the care of very premature babies, so it may be necessary to transfer you and your baby to another unit, ideally before delivery (if time permits) or immediately afterwards.

If contractions start prematurely, the doctors may be able to use drugs (tocolytics) to stop your contractions temporarily. This hopefully allows time for steroid injections to be given to speed the maturity of their immature lungs. Steroids will reduce the risk of the baby suffering from the complications of being born very early (particularly breathing difficulties and bleeding). They can take about 24 hours to work.

Twins And Triplets

Twins and triplets are more likely to be born early, with often fewer than half of all twin pregnancies lasting beyond 37 weeks. The average length of the pregnancy for triplets is 34 weeks.

If you have any reason to think that your labor may be starting early, you should contact your hospital straight away.

Early Signs Of Labor

Giving birth will be different for every woman, but the main signs that you are starting labor will most likely be strong, regular contractions, and a ‘show’. During your pregnancy, a plug of mucus sits in your cervix. A show is when that plug of mucus comes away, indicating that the cervix is starting to open.

Other signs that you are going into labor can include:

  • your waters breaking (rupture of the membranes)
  • backache, or an upset stomach
  • cramping or tightening, similar to period pain
  • a feeling of pressure, as the baby’s head moves into the pelvis
  • an urge to go to the toilet caused by your baby’s head pressing in your bowel.

Stages Of  Labor

There are three stages to labor.

  • The first stage is when your contractions increase, and your cervix begins to open up (dilate). This is usually the longest state.
  • The second stage of labor is when your cervix is fully open. This is the part of labor where you help your baby move through your vagina by pushing with your contractions.
  • The third stage is after the birth of your baby, when your womb contracts and causes the placenta to come out through the vagina.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

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