10 Signs of Preterm Labor

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By lizzie
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Reviewed: dr. vanta
Article Sources Article Sources
  • 1. 'Preterm Labor and Birth.' American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, June 2020, www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/preterm-labor-and-birth
  • 2. 'Preterm Labor.' Mayo Clinic, 24 Dec. 2019, [www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/preterm-labor/symptoms-causes/syc-20376842.](https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/preterm-labor/symptoms-causes/syc-20376842.)
  • 3. 'Water Breaking: Understand This Sign of Labor.' Mayo Clinic, 16 July 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/labor-and-delivery/in-depth/water-breaking/art-20044142
Medical Expert Medical Expert

Pregnancy is an equally wonderful and scary experience because of the physical, mental and emotional changes that accompany the growth of a tiny human. When something happens outside of the bounds of normal, such as preterm labor, the scary part is heightened.

Preterm labor is characterized as labor that starts after 20 weeks and before 37 weeks of pregnancy.1‘Preterm Labor and Birth.’ American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, June 2020, www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/preterm-labor-and-birth The ideal length of a pregnancy is 40 weeks.1‘Preterm Labor and Birth.’ American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, June 2020, www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/preterm-labor-and-birth While preterm labor does not automatically mean premature birth, it requires medical intervention.1‘Preterm Labor and Birth.’ American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, June 2020, www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/preterm-labor-and-birth As such, it helps to know the signs of preterm labor and when to seek help.

Cramping

Some cramping is normal during pregnancy, especially in the latter stages as the body readies itself for labor. For example, Braxton-Hicks contractions prepare the body for labor, but they come and go, being described as mild menstrual cramps. Persistent cramping that gets increasingly more uncomfortable may be a sign of preterm labor.1‘Preterm Labor and Birth.’ American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, June 2020, www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/preterm-labor-and-birth This cramping may or may not be accompanied by diarrhea.1‘Preterm Labor and Birth.’ American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, June 2020, www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/preterm-labor-and-birth

Cramping may be a sign of contractions that are causing changes in the cervix.1‘Preterm Labor and Birth.’ American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, June 2020, www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/preterm-labor-and-birth The body may be preparing for birth before it's time to do so, causing a thinning of the cervix and possibly even dilation.1‘Preterm Labor and Birth.’ American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, June 2020, www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/preterm-labor-and-birth

Preterm Labor

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