What is preterm labour?
Preterm labour is labour that occurs in a pregnancy before 37 weeks’ gestation.
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Signs and symptoms of preterm labour include: pelvic pressure; lower abdominal cramping and back pain; your waters breaking; changes in cervical discharge such that it is watery, bloody or mucus-like; dilation of the cervix; vaginal spotting, and; …
Causes of preterm labour include: placental abnormalities, such as placenta previa or placental abruption; infection and inflammation; physical or psychological stress, and; stretching of the uterus – often as a result of a multiple pregnancy.
If your waters have broken, you are experiencing frequent and intense contractions and your cervix has dilated, preterm labour is most probably occurring. A test of your cervical secretions can be performed to look for a protein called fibronectin which …
If preterm labour is suspected, a range of medications comprising tocolytic therapy (to slow down contractions) will be used to delay delivery. Corticosteroids are also used to help your baby mature faster if early delivery is going to happen.
If you have experienced preterm labour in the past, you will likely be given progesterone in the form of an injection or vaginal gel to help reduce the risk of it happening again. You can also help reduce your risk by not smoking or taking drugs.
The outlook for preterm labour depends on how early your baby is delivered in the course of your pregnancy, with complications decreasing and survival increasing dramatically between 24-34 weeks’ gestation. The longer that delivery can be delayed, …
If delivery is at 24 weeks, the chances of the baby's survival are lower than 50%. Every week that delivery can be delayed greatly lowers the risk of complications and increases the chances of the baby's survival.