Pre-term labor is labor that begins before 37 weeks of pregnancy. The normal length of labor is 38 - 40 weeks; babies born earlier than 38 weeks are considered premature.
Sometimes, the cause for pre-term labor is unknown and most likely not the mother’s fault. However, there are some things you can do to prevent early labor.
- Seek early and regular prenatal care with an OB or midwife
- Listen to your body. If something does not feel right, call your medical practitioner
- Know the signs of pre-term labor and learn what to do to stop it
What to Do if You Experience Preterm Labor Symptoms
Stop whatever you were doing to bring on the contraction. Then, lie down on your left side with a pillow between your knees for at least one hour. During the next hour, drink 3 to 4 glasses of water or juice. Use the bathroom as needed. Feel the top of your uterus and note when it tightens and relaxes. Time your contractions. If after one hour, they are still regular and less than 15 minutes apart, call your practitioner. If the symptoms get worse within the hour, call your practitioner and go to the hospital.
If the contractions stop, continue on with any light activity, but do not do what you were doing when your contractions started. If the contractions continue after one hour of rest, call your practitioner.
If the episode passes and does not reoccur, be sure to let your doctor or midwife know about the contractions you experienced at your next prenatal appointment.
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