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Premature Labor & Delivery
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You might have heard it referred to as preterm labor. Preterm labor, also called premature labor, includes contractions and labor that happen before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Many women spend a lot of their time worrying about the possibility of preterm labor. It is fairly rare for women to experience preterm labor, and sometimes it can be treated or prevented. Premature infants may have complications with their health because they are often born without fully developed organs. Of course, these risks are greater the earlier the baby is born.

Some risk factors that contribute to preterm labor and delivery include:

  • Prior preterm birth
  • Alcohol, drugs or cigarette use (If you drink, smoke, or use illegal drugs or medications your doctor hasn’t okayed, you’re putting your infant in danger and making preterm labor more likely. )
  • Ruptured membranes
  • Infection
  • Multiple birth
  • Chronic illness (If you have a preexisting chronic illness or condition, such as diabetes, liver or heart disease, you might be at a high risk for preterm labor and delivery.)

There are many more causes of preterm labor, most of which are beyond your control. Sometimes, preterm labor is simply inexplicable. But, if you take care of yourself and eat right and don’t put too much stress on your body, you will be on the right track to minimizing those risks.

There are also false calls for pregnant women who may think they are experiencing preterm labor. Braxton Hicks contractions are a common cause for concern in pregnant women in the second and third trimesters. Braxton Hicks contractions are considered “warm-up” exercises where you might feel contractions, but they usually disappear with activity. Remember that true labor contractions don’t subside with activity and may be accompanied by a change in vaginal fluid to a blood-streaked discharge and the rupture of membranes. If you have any difficulty telling the difference, contact your provider. It’s always better to be safe.

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