Every pregnant woman should be considered at risk of preterm birth. Around the 20th week of pregnancy, all pregnant women should learn the signs and symptoms of preterm labor and what they can do if they occur.
Preterm birth is any birth that occurs before the 37th completed week of pregnancy. Compared to other babies, preterm babies are more likely to face lifelong health problems or even to die in the first month of life, especially if they are born very preterm (less than 32 weeks gestation).
IMPORTANT: Call your health care provider or go to the hospital right away if you think you're having preterm labor, or if you have any of the warning signs.
If the symptoms get worse, or don't go away after one hour, call your health care provider again or go to the hospital. If the symptoms go away, relax for the rest of the day.
If the symptoms stop but come back, call your health care provider again or go to the hospital.
If you have any of these three risk factors, it's especially important for you to know the signs and symptoms of preterm labor and what to do if they occur. You may also want to ask your health care provider about taking progesterone to reduce your risk.
Inducing labor or having a cesarean section too early can lead to preterm birth.
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© 2009 March of Dimes Foundation. All rights reserved. The March of Dimes is a not-for-profit organization recognized as tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3). Our mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.