Every woman knows that a full-term pregnancy lasts for 40 weeks. However, it is not uncommon for the contractions to occur a couple of weeks earlier. In most cases of premature labor, women experience the contractions in the 37th week. The medical term for this condition is preterm labor. The experts are still not 100% sure what causes preterm labor but women need to know that there are certain steps they may take in order to prevent this from happening.
Why is preterm labor a concern?
There are a lot of risks for the baby that can occur if a woman goes through preterm labor. The earlier the preterm birth the greater the risks. Some of the more common complications are low birth weight, breathing difficulties, underdeveloped organs and certain infections that may be fatal.
Who is at risk of preterm labor?
Women need to know that preterm labor can happen to all women. However, there are some risk factors that increase the chances of it like previous preterm labor or preterm birth, pregnancy with more than one baby, specific uterus, cervix or placenta problems, smoking and alcohol consumption, usage of illicit drugs and certain infections of the lower genital tract or the amniotic fluid. Apart from these, there are other risk factors that occur like certain chronic conditions like diabetes, being underweight or overweight before pregnancy, stressful life events, anemia, multiple miscarriages and domestic violence.
Can preterm labor be prevented?
The doctors are unsure whether this can be done. However, there are things that women can do in order to heave a healthy pregnancy.
Seeking regular prenatal care is important in order for the health of both the mother and the baby to be monitored.
Following a healthy diet is very important. A pregnant woman needs to eat more foods that contain calcium, iron, folic acid, protein and other essential nutrients.
If a woman suffers from certain chronic conditions, like diabetes for instance, she needs to manage them.
Avoiding risky substances like cigarettes and alcohol should be done.
Talking to the doctor about any questions is essential.
Signs and symptoms of preterm labor
Almost every woman will know the signs of preterm labor but other people may have problems identifying them. Contractions that occur more than eight times within an hour, diarrhea, pain in the back, pelvic pressure, vaginal spotting or bleeding, watery discharge from the vagina and an increased vaginal discharge are some of the most common and obvious signs of preterm labor.
If a woman only suspects of preterm labor, she needs to go to the hospital.