- Preterm Labor
- Signs of Preterm Labor and What Your Doctor Will Do
- Pregnancy - premature labour
- Am I in early labour?
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Victorian government portal for older people, with information about government and community services and programs. Type a minimum of three characters then press UP or DOWN on the keyboard to navigate the autocompleted search results. Sometimes, babies arrive early. Pregnancy usually lasts for 38 to 42 weeks. A premature birth is when a baby arrives before 37 weeks. This means how long they have been growing in the womb.
Preterm labor is defined as regular contractions of the uterus resulting in changes in the cervix that start before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Changes in the cervix include effacement the cervix thins out and dilation the cervix opens so that the fetus can enter the birth canal. In some cases preterm labor can lead to a baby being born too soon. When birth occurs between 20 weeks of pregnancy and 37 weeks of pregnancy, it is called preterm birth. Preterm birth is a concern because babies who are born too early may not be fully developed. They may be born with serious health problems. Some health problems, like cerebral palsy , can last a lifetime.
Most pregnancies or about 90 percent of them, roughly speaking last to term — which is at least week 37 of pregnancy though that's now called "early term"; full-term babies are born between 39 weeks of pregnancy and week 40 of pregnancy. Similarly, not having any of the risk factors doesn't mean that you won't some women do for other reasons — or for no known reason at all. While medical advances have made it possible to successfully treat even the tiniest of premature babies, medical interventions to prevent preterm labor have been elusive, in large part because doctors still don't understand it enough to be able to develop effective ways to treat it. But that doesn't mean there's nothing you as a concerned mom-to-be can do. Two screening tests may be useful in predicting whether you're at risk for preterm birth. However both are only recommended for high-risk women, since positive test results aren't an accurate predictor of early delivery though negative results can help avoid unnecessary interventions — and needless anxiety. A full 80 percent of women who have symptoms of preterm labor will not deliver early.
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Early contractions may not feel like labor at full-term. If a baby is born before 32 weeks, however, the prognosis is less optimistic. After about 30 weeks of pregnancy, many women notice occasional uterine contractions. Called Braxton Hicks contractions , they're normal and usually painless. They tend to occur when you're tired or are exerting yourself, and they usually stop when you rest. True premature contractions come at regular intervals or progressively become more frequent or more painful; Braxton Hicks contractions don't. You're probably experiencing a whole range of new sensations throughout your pregnancy—so how can you tell if it's just a stomach muscle cramping and stretching over your growing belly, or if it's preterm contractions?
Early labour means going into labour before 37 weeks. After this point your pregnancy is classed as full term. If you go into labour earlier than you had expected, you'll have to think on your feet. Do not panic however, only 2 in 10 cases of suspected premature labour actually result in the baby being born. In the other 8 in 10, the symptoms turn out to be something else, or the contractions simply stop of their own accord and the baby is delivered later in the pregnancy, or at full term. If you're in any doubt, phone the hospital or midwife straight away for advice. If you are less than 37 weeks pregnant they will usually tell you to go straight to hospital, and they may send an ambulance for you.
Signs of Preterm Labor and What Your Doctor Will Do
If you are at risk for preterm labor, several screening tests can help you and your doctor determine the extent of your risk. These tests measure changes that indicate the onset of labor and changes that are associated with an increased risk of preterm labor. These tests can be performed before you have any signs of preterm labor or they may be used after labor has begun.
Pregnancy - premature labour
Am I in early labour?