Pregnancy Care Guide
Preconception check up
How to get pregnant
Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy
Foetal Develpoment
First Trimester
Second Trimester
Third Trimester
Changes in the woman
Check Ups and Tests
Blood Tests
Urine Tests
Tests on the Uterus
Diet and foods for the pregnant
Essential Nutrients
Recommended Daily Diet for the Expectant Woman
Tips for Healthy Eating
Wholesome Eating During the Trimesters
Exercises during pregnancy
Antenatal care
Complications during Pregnancy
Causes of repeated abortions and miscarriage
High Risk pregnancy
Twins and multiple pregnancies
Gestational diabetes
Pregnancy induced hypertension
Bleeding during pregnancy
Preterm or premature labour
Ectopic pregnancy
Rhesus Factor

Preterm or premature labour

If a baby is born before the thirty-seventh week of pregnancy- more than 3 weeks early the birth is called preterm and the baby premature. Preterm birth represents the greatest health risk to newborns. Preterm babies have an increased risk of neonatal problems. Their lungs and other organs may not ready to function yet. Respiratory distress is the greatest concern and the babies often have difficulty maintaining their body temperature. In addition, their sucking may be weak, and they are more susceptible to infection.

Preterm labour has all the signs of full term labour.

Regular contractions. Not all labour contractions are painful especially in the early stages but if they are happening regularly you need to be hospitalised.

Bleeding.  Any bleeding at any time during your pregnancy should be reported to your doctor as soon as possible.

Membranes rupturing. This is the third main sign of preterm birth when the bag of water that surround your baby breaks. (PROM) When the membranes rupture it can show as anything from a slow trickle to a gush of water. If this happens you need to seek medical advice.

Symptoms of preterm labour include:

  • Constant, strong contractions or menstrual-like cramping;
  • low back pain;
  • continuous thin clear mucous or bloody vaginal discharge; or
  • bleeding or blood spotting after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Preterm labour can often be stopped if it is caught in time. The treatment for preterm labour includes bed rest; antibiotics, if indicated, for infection and possibly medications to relax the uterus and stop the contractions. While some studies question the efficacy of bed rest, it is the current treatment of choice.

Women who are more likely to go into preterm labour include

  • previous miscarriage or preterm birth;
  • smoking, drug or alcohol use during pregnancy;
  • multiple pregnancy(twins or more);
  • Anaemia (low haemoglobin);
  • ¬†Increased fluid around baby;
  • Any infection or fever;

The dangers of preterm birth

A baby born too soon may have health problems. This is because the baby did not have enough time to mature. The baby is then at risk of not being able to suck at the breast, having immature lungs, bleeding in the brain or not being able to maintain body temperature. All these increase its chances of mortality.

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