Signs and treatment of pre-term labour
- Contractions - Contractions that are painful or regular may be a sign of pre-term labour.
- Ruptured Membranes - This could mean a gush of fluid or may just be a trickle of watery fluid. This could indicate that your water has boken.
- Cramps - Menstual-like cramps could indicate labour.
- Back Pain - Pain in the lower back
- Pressure - A feeling of the baby pushing down, pelvic pressure.
- Vaginal Discharge - Leaking fluid, blood or a "show" of mucus from the vagina may indicate pre-term labour.
Treatment of Pre-term labour
If preterm labour is determined, there are a number of treatments that can be used to stop or delay the labour. These include bed rest, hydration and administration of Turbutaline or Magnesium Sulfate.
If it appears that birth is imenent and the baby is between 24 and 34 weeks gestation, a corticosteroid may be given to the mother 24 hours before birth in an attempt to increase the baby's lung and brain development.
Although bed rest, fluids and labour-inhibiting medications including steroids may be prescribed, these attempts often merely offer a short delay in the delivery to allow physicians to speed the development of the baby's lungs and, if necessary, transfer the mother to a hospital that is better equipped for premature babies, such as one with a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
- Laws PJ, Grayson N & Sullivan EA 2006. Australia's mothers and babies 2004. Perinatal statistics series no. 18. AIHW cat. no. PER 34. Sydney: AIHW National Perinatal Statistics Unit.
- Southeast Missouri Hospital. High Risk Pregnancy. Retrieved September 10, 2007, from www.southeastmissourihospital.com/health/PEDS/hrpregnant/sitemap.htm
- Tomasulo J.P., & Lubetkin D. (Ed.). Premature Birth. Retrieved September 17, 2007, from http://obgyn.health.ivillage.com/pregnancybasics/prematurebirth2.cfm
The material provided here is for informational purposes only and should not replace, or be used as a substitute for, professional medical advice.