What are the signs of premature labour?
The following symptoms before 37 weeks of pregnancy could indicate premature labour:
- either a slow trickle or a gush of clear or pinkish fluid from the vagina or any increase in vaginal discharge
- cramps like strong period pains
- a frequent need to urinate
- a feeling of pressure in the pelvis
- nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea.
If you have any of the following symptoms, phone the hospital or midwife straight away, as you could be in labour:
Don't delay if you have strong pain, a smelly discharge or bleeding from your vagina, or if you are feeling feverish, sick or have a temperature, call immediately as you may need urgent medical attention.
If you have been told you are at risk of having a premature baby, or if you have already had a premature baby, you are likely to have lots of questions about preterm birth.
Knowing the stages of growth and development after a preterm baby is born and how to care for your baby is essential to give the best chance of survival.
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Preterm birth and labour, guidance in development final scope, NICE, 2013. Also available at:http://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/live/14004/62814/62814.pdf (accessed 15 April 2014)
Intrauterine infection, also known as chorioamnionitis, is infection within the womb.
Diabetes is a condition in which there is an inability to control blood sugar levels and it leads to high amounts of sugar in the blood. Gestational diabetes is diabetes that develops during pregnancy.
Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), also known as fetal growth restriction (FGR) is a condition in which a baby's growth slows or stops when they are in the womb.
Frequently asked questions on the causes of premature birth
The way your life is lived can have an effect on your risk of premature birth.
Your history of previous pregnancies and your medical history are factors in determining your risk of premature delivery.
Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system makes antibodies that attack and damage its own tissues or cells.
Multiple pregnancy means carrying more than one baby, normally twins.
Some women have a congenital uterine abnormality, which is a womb/uterus that formed in an unusual way before birth.
When the cervix shortens and opens in the second trimester (16 to 24 weeks) or early in the third trimester without any other symptoms of labour it may be referred to as "cervical incompetence"
If your waters break early, seek medical advice straight away as you could be at risk of premature labour.
The placenta is your baby’s support system in the womb. If your placenta doesn’t work properly, your baby is at risk of health problems.
ℹLast reviewed on April 1st, 2014. Next review date April 1st, 2017.