Premature labor is defined as the onset of labor before 37 weeks of pregnancy, or more than three weeks before your due date. If you catch it early, it can often be stopped with medications.
Warning signs of premature labor
- Uterine contractions more than five times an hour. Make sure they are not Braxton Hicks contractions, which, although they can be strong and even painful, will not grow longer, closer together, or more intense over time.
- Cramps similar to those during your period
- Abdominal cramps, with or without diarrhea
- Pain in your lower back
- Pressure that feels like the baby is pushing down in your pelvis
- A change in your vaginal discharge: it may become more mucousy, watery, or be tinged with blood, possibly indicating that your water has broken
What to do if you have symptoms
- Empty your bladder and lie down on your left side.
- Drink several glasses of water or juice. Staying hydrated can reduce contractions.
- Call your doctor or midwife if you are still having symptoms after an hour.