5 signs you might be going into premature labour

If you aren’t 37 weeks pregnant yet, here’s how to tell if your baby is arriving sooner than you expected. 

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Pregnancy is a time of joy and celebration, but that doesn’t stop a mum-to-be from having her own unique set of worries. After all, growing and nurturing a human being inside of you can put a lot of pressure on a person.  

One of the most common worries that sends almost every pregnant mum into mini-panic mode at some point is the fear of going into preterm or premature labour. For a baby to be born healthy, doctors (and nature) recommends that the foetus be carried for the entire gestational period, which lasts 40 weeks.

By medical standards, anything between 37 weeks and over is also considered full-term and healthy for baby, notes SmartParents expert Dr Christopher Chong, an obstetrician-gynaecologist at Gleneagles Hospital. “Anything before 37 weeks is considered preterm labour,” he adds.

Giving birth too early comes with a host of complications for both mum and bub. Dr Chong explains, “Danger for the mother depends on the reasons she went into premature labour ― not the labour per se.” For example, she could have gone into labour because of high blood pressure, which could be life-threatening for her.

“Their [preemies] organs may not be well formed, there is higher risk of respiratory disorders, poor growth, poor feeding and it may also affect their level of intelligence.”

 For baby, the health complications depend on how premature he or she is. “Their organs may not be well formed, there is higher risk of respiratory disorders, poor growth, poor feeding and it may also affect their level of intelligence,” says Dr Chong. Preemies have lower immunity levels, which makes them more prone to infections, and are also at higher risk of jaundice.

Who is at higher risk of preterm labour?

Less than 20 per cent of women go into preterm labour, but your chances of experiencing one is much higher if you have any of the following conditions:

· A lower genital tract infection.
· Pregnant with multiples.
· High blood pressure.
· Badly-controlled diabetes.
· Chronic smoker.
· Growths in the womb, such as fibroids.
· An incompetent cervix.
· An abnormal or septic womb.
· A bicornuate (“heart-shaped”) uterus.
· If you’re 18 years old and younger.
· If you’re 40 years old and older.
· Patients who are malnourished.
· Patients who have had poor antenatal care.
· Bleeding from the placenta.

Signs you might be experiencing early labour

As long as you’re unwell or feel that something is “off” with your body, talk to your doctor at once. Unfortunately, preterm labour can happen at any point, and the earlier it does, the more you put yourself and your baby at risk.