Preterm labor, also called premature labor, is when your body starts getting ready for pregnancy too early. A pregnancy is premature if it starts more than three weeks before the due date. Preterm labor can result in a premature birth. This is when you give birth too early. Birthing a child too early can lead to health concerns for your newborn.
Risk Factors for Preterm Labor
- A family or personal history of preterm labor
- Being pregnant with twins, triplets, etc.
- Health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and/or infections (urinary tract or sexually-transmitted)
- Having issues with your placenta, cervix, or uterus
- Drinking alcohol or using street drugs
- Being under the age of 18 or over the age of 35
- Social concerns such as a lack of support, domestic violence and/or high levels of stress
- Not going to the doctor for prenatal visits
Signs and Symptoms
- Clear, watery, pink or brownish discharge
- A change in vaginal discharge (more than usual)
- Vaginal bleeding after 20 weeks
- Cramping in your lower stomach
- Pressure in your pelvis/vagina
- Dull, low back pain
- Frequent, or consistent, contractions less than 10 minutes apart
- Your water breaks
If you have any of these symptoms, please contact your doctor’s office for medical advice.