All women should be aware of the signs of pre-term labour. Even if you are not recognised as having a high-risk pregnancy, you are still at risk, as many of the causes of pre-term birth are still unknown. Signs and symptoms of pre-term labour can include, but are not limited to, the following. If you experience any of these symptoms, or feel that something is “not right”, seek medical advice.
Signs and Symptoms:
Contractions that are painful or regular may be a sign of pre-term labour.
This could mean a gush of fluid or just a trickle of watery fluid. Either could indicate that your water has broken.
Menstrual-like cramps could indicate labour.
Pain in your lower back.
A feeling of the baby pushing down - pelvic pressure.
Leaking fluid, blood or a “show” of mucous from the vagina may indicate pre-term labour.
Treatment of Pre-term labour
If pre-term labour is determined, there are a number of treatments that can be used to stop or delay the labour. These include bed rest, hydration and administration of Turbutaline or Magnesium Sulphate.
If it appears that birth is imminent and the baby is between 24 and 34 weeks gestation, a corticosteroid may be given to the mother 24 hours before birth in an attempt to increase the baby’s lung and brain development.
Although bed rest, fluids and labour-inhibiting medications including steroids may be prescribed, these attempts often merely offer a short delay in the delivery to allow physicians to speed the development of the baby’s lungs and, if necessary, transfer the mother to a hospital that is better equipped for premature babies, such as one with a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).