Preterm labor occurs when the pregnant woman experiences regular contractions which causes a change in the cervix. The contractions in the uterus start before the 37th week of pregnancy. When there is a change in the cervix it causes the cervix to thin out which is called effacement and dilation where the cervix opens and lets the fetus enter the birth canal. A normal pregnancy lasts for around 40 weeks.
When the lady experiences preterm labor then this can result in preterm birth. The baby is at a higher risk when it is born prematurely. They could suffer from some mental or physical issues that could affect them for a long term. Babies that are born premature need special care and are thus kept in the neonatal intensive care unit.
Causes of preterm labor
The exact cause of why preterm labor happens is not known. There are some factors that could increase the risk of preterm labor but in most cases, preterm labor happens without any known factors.
Signs and symptoms of preterm labor
Look out for the following signs of preterm labor:
- A frequent and repetitive sensation of tightening in the abdomen
- A low and dull pain in the back
- A sensation of having pelvic pressure
- A feeling of pressure in the lower abdomen
- Abdominal cramps or very light intensity
- Light spotting or bleeding from the vagina
- A rupture of the membrane that happens prematurely
- Change in the type of vaginal discharge which is watery and mucus like and also bloody
Who is at risk of preterm labor
Though the exact causes of preterm labor are still not known, however, there are a few factors that could be the cause of preterm labor. These risks factors are most likely for preterm labor.
- A history of premature birth
- Carrying multiples
- Problems with the cervix or uterus or issues in the past
- Not enough prenatal care
- High-stress levels
Knowing the above factors in advance lets you take the necessary precautions for preterm labor. You should also talk to your doctor about how to reduce the chances of preterm labor.
When the baby is born between the 20 and the 37 weeks of pregnancy then the baby is a preterm baby and this is known as preterm birth.
Preterm birth is a matter of concern because preterm babies are not fully developed as they are born early. The preterm birth could cause many health problems that could be serious in nature. Cerebral palsy one such health problem common in preterm babies that stays for life. The preterm babies also face difficulties in learning and fail to meet the development goals.
The preterm babies are at very high risk of health problems. However, the babies that are born before the 34th the week of pregnancy are at a higher risk as compared to babies that are born after the 34th week of pregnancy. The good news is that medicine and research in this field have helped to improve the condition of preterm babies.