Preterm Labor

I am a 195 days / 6 months, 2 weeks & 1 day old baby

Preterm labor is defined as the presence of uterine contractions of sufficient frequency and intensity to effect progressive effacement and dilation of the cervix prior to term gestation (between 20 and 37 week). Preterm labor precedes almost half of preterm births and preterm birth occurs in approximately 12% of pregnancies and is the leading cause of neonatal mortality in the United States. In addition, preterm birth accounts for 70% of neonatal morbidity, mortality, and health care dollars spent on the neonate, largely due to the 2% of American women delivering very premature infants (less than 32 week).[1]

Preterm labor can happen to any woman: Only about half the women who have preterm labor fall into any known risk group. About 12 percent of births (1 in 8) in the United States are preterm. Babies who are born preterm are at higher risk of needing hospitalization, having long-term health problems and of dying than babies born at the right time.

Three groups of women are at greatest risk of preterm labor and birth:

* Women who have had a previous preterm birth
* Women who are pregnant with twins, triplets or more
* Women with certain uterine or cervical abnormalities[2]

The signs of preterm labor include:

* Contractions (your abdomen tightens like a fist) every 10 minutes or more often
* Change in vaginal discharge (leaking fluid or bleeding from your vagina)
* Pelvic pressure—the feeling that your baby is pushing down
* Low, dull backache
* Cramps that feel like your period
* Abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea.[3]
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Notes:

[1] emedicine.medscape.com
[2] marchofdimes.com
[3] ibid