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Pregnancy
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 chance that it 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 your period
  • Low, dull backache - like when you have your period
  • Pressure - like the baby is pushing down
  • 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 "Opens in new windowPrevent 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 Opens in new windowplain text version.

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Last updated: April 2013

 
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