Anything before the schedule can be overwhelming. Project submissions and presentations. Traffic jams at 5 o’clock. The morning alarm. And then, of course, preterm babies. Going into labour before 37 weeks of pregnancy is termed as preterm labour. The phenomenon can pose serious, and sometimes even fatal health risks, to your baby.
If you’ve been informed that you’re at risk of preterm labour (specifically if you have a high-risk pregnancy or are carrying multiples), it’s imperative that you know the signs and symptoms to watch for. Getting help early for your baby can minimise risks and offset potential health challenges.
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Preterm labour can present various signs and symptoms, which may affect you independently or in conjunction:
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If you suspect that you’ve gone into early labour, don’t panic. Reach your hospital right away to seek emergency intervention. Once there, your cervix – the opening that connects the uterus to the vagina – may be checked via a transvaginal ultrasound or pelvic exam, for its state of dilation.
A transvaginal ultrasound uses sound waves to provide an accurate picture of your baby to your doctor and can be valuable in assessing the progress of labour. If you are indeed in labour, your doctor will monitor the frequency and strength of your contractions to predict the right time for delivery.If going into labour can risk your or your child’s health, you may be administered treatment either to arrest labour or to better your baby’s odds at birth.
Although there is still uncertainty about what causes preterm labour, there are some known risk factors. These include prior premature deliveries, multiple pregnancies, and a history of uterine or cervical problems. Smoking and poor prenatal care can also play a role in influencing preterm labour.
If you’re considered high-risk, it’s important that you arm yourself with precautions and information to avoid preterm labour and minimise problems for you and your baby. By taking effective steps and measures, you can keep your baby (or babies) in your belly for as long as possible, and your peace of mind intact.
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