Watch for preterm (early) labor
Usually, babies are born between 38 and 42 weeks after conception.
The earlier a baby is born, the more likely he or she is
to have health problems. Preterm labor is labor that starts
too early (before the 37th week of pregnancy). When you get
pregnant, it's important to discuss the symptoms of preterm
labor with your doctor.
If you have any of the signs of labor (listed below) before
you reach 37 weeks, call your doctor. The sooner you are
checked for preterm labor, the better the
can be stopped.
Know the Signs of Preterm (early) Labor
- Contractions of the uterus
(womb) - may be painless or feel like the baby is "balling
up" - 6 or more in 1 hour
- Cramps - like when you have
- Low, dull backache - like
when you have your period
- Pressure - like the baby is
- Increase or change in discharge (fluid)
from your vagina - watery, or with mucus or blood
If you have any of these signs, immediately
call your doctor, clinic, midwife, or nurse! Give
your name, when your baby is due, what signs you are having,
and how often you are having contractions.
Keep a copy of the "Prevent
Preterm Labor" card in your purse or on your refrigerator
so you will always know the warning signs. (If you find
the card is taking too long to download, try the plain
For more health information, search MedlinePlus
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Last updated: April 2013