Preterm Labor- Symptoms, Causes, & Risk Factors| KM NU Hospitals
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Preterm Labor: Symptoms, Causes, & Risk Factors

Having a smooth and full-term pregnancy, without any complications is the dream of every woman who thinks of attaining motherhood. For this, a lot of medical check-ups, including blood tests and imaging tests are regularly done to monitor the progress of the foetus. However, despite taking all necessary precautions, there are times when the woman experiences preterm labor. 

Preterm labor is said to occur when regular contractions take place around week 20 instead of week 37, which results in the opening of the cervix. A baby born as a result of preterm labor faces greater health risks and may require to be kept under observation in the neonatal intensive care unit.


What is premature birth?

Premature birth or preterm birth, as it is also known, refers to when a baby is born before 37 weeks of gestational period. Preterm babies are often seen to suffer from health complications such as trouble in breathing, underdeveloped organs, vision problems, and low birth weight.


Signs and symptoms of preterm labor

There are many signs and symptoms related to preterm labor which can easily be recognized. Some of these indications include:

·       Frequent or regular sensations of abdominal tightening (contractions): This means experiencing four or more contractions in one hour that don’t go away even after changing your position or relaxing.

·       Sensation of pelvic or lower abdominal pressure: Regular low, dull pain in your back that either comes and goes on its own or is constantly present and can’t be relieved by changing positions or by using other comfort measures.

·       Mild abdominal cramps: These cramps are accompanied with or without diarrhoea that sometimes might feel like gas pain.

·       Continuous low, dull headache: Headache is a common complaint in women who experience preterm labor.

·       Vaginal spotting or light bleeding: Sometimes, the woman might exhibit persistent menstrual-like symptoms, including spotting or light bleeding.

·       Preterm rupture of membranes: This may take place in a gush or as a continuous trickle of fluid, after the membrane around the foetus breaks or tears.

·       Watery, mucus-like, or bloody vaginal discharge: There may be a change in the type of vaginal discharge. It may also be more than usual.

·       Nausea and vomiting: You may also experience flu-like symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.

·       Decreased foetal movements: If you don’t feel the baby make at least six movements in the span of an hour, it might be an indication of preterm labor.


Causes of preterm labor

You may experience premature or preterm labor if you:

·       Had a premature baby in the past

·       Have a pregnancy with twins, triplets, or more

·       Have or had a problem in the past with your cervix, uterus, or vagina


Risk factors for preterm labor

There are few risk factors associated with preterm labor. They may be divided into the following four classes:

A.     Pregnancy risk factors

·       Vaginal bleeding throughout the pregnancy

·       Pregnancy achieved via in vitro fertilization (IVF)

·       Carrying a foetus suspected to have a congenital abnormality

·       Short spacing between two pregnancies


B.      Age and race risk factors

·       Age less than 17 or greater than 35 years

· Belong to the Black race


C.      Medical risk factors

· Untreated vaginal infections such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), sexually transmitted infections (STIs), etc.

·       Placental problems such as placental abruption

·       Connective tissue problems such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS)

·       Excess of amniotic fluid (polyhydramnios) or too little amniotic fluid (oligohydramnios)

·       Short cervix or irregularly-shaped uterus


D.      Lifestyle risk factors

. Lacking prenatal care

. Being underweight or overweight before pregnancy

. Not gaining enough weight during pregnancy

. Consuming a poor diet

. Smoking, drinking, or using illegal drugs

. Demanding job that requires long hours of standing

. Having high stress or anxiety levels

. Being exposed to teratogens such as chemicals, lead, radiations,

and other harmful substances

Having seen the symptoms, causes, and risk factors for preterm labor, it is important to ensure that you are aware of these. Even though it may sound difficult, try not to panic as the symptoms usually wear out on their own and most women give birth at term. 

Preterm labor is usually temporary. In case you do go into preterm labor during your pregnancy, notify your healthcare provider immediately who will recommend certain medications to stop or delay the labor. 

Premature labor can be prevented with bed rest, intravenous fluids, and uterine relaxants (medications). Preterm labor can be avoided most effectively by maintaining good health throughout your pregnancy and taking care of any pre-existing health conditions.

KM NU Hospitals is located in Ambur, Tamil Nadu. It has the best gynecologist and obstetrician in Ambur who are well-qualified to deal with pregnancy-related emergencies such as preterm labor. 

KM NU Hospitals is known for its state-of-the-art facilities and highly advanced technology which has helped bring a smile to millions of people. Visit this premiere medical institute today without delay!