A diagnosis that is very frequent among patients is the threat of preterm labor, where uterine contractions occur before the determined date of delivery, specifically between 22 and 36 weeks.
The earlier premature birth occurs, the greater the risks to your baby’s health. Many premature babies (premature newborns) need special medical care in the neonatal intensive care unit. Preterm newborns can also have long-term mental and physical disabilities.
The specific cause of preterm labor is often unclear. Certain risk factors can increase the likelihood of preterm labor, but preterm labor can also occur in pregnant women with no known risk factors, so monitoring and knowing the symptoms to be aware of are of the utmost importance.
The signs and symptoms of preterm labor include the following:
- Regular or frequent sensations of tightening of the abdomen (contractions)
- Mild, constant pain in the back
- A sensation of pressure in the pelvis or lower abdomen
- Mild cramps
- Mild vaginal spotting or bleeding
- Premature rupture of the membranes: continuous loss of fluid, in the form of a stream or drip that can reach the knees and is colorless.
- Change in the type of vaginal discharge (watery, mucus-like, or bloody)
If you have these signs or symptoms, or you are concerned about what you are feeling, immediately consult your OB / GYN doctor who will provide treatment if necessary and clarify all your doubts regarding your concerns.
Preterm labor can affect any pregnancy. However, many factors were linked to an increased risk of preterm birth, including the following:
- Preterm labor or previous preterm birth, in a previous pregnancy
- Pregnancy of twins, triplets, or more
- Shortened cervix
- Problems with the uterus or placenta
- Smoking or illegal drug use
- Certain infections, particularly of the amniotic fluid and lower genital tract including vaginal infections
- Some chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and depression.
- If stressful life-cycle events occur, such as the death of a loved one
- Excess amniotic fluid (polyhydramnios)
- Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
- Presence of a congenital defect in the fetus
- An interval fewer than 12 months – or more than 59 months – between pregnancies
- The mother’s age <18 years and> 35 years
Complications of preterm labor include the birth of a premature baby. This can pose a number of health problems for your baby, such as low birth weight, breathing difficulties, underdeveloped organs, and vision problems. Children who are born prematurely are also at increased risk for cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, and behavior problems.
There are certain things that can be done to reduce the risk of premature births. Among these are getting regular prenatal care, since prenatal consultations can help your doctor monitor your health and the health of your baby.
Nutrition is also an important factor. The results of a healthy pregnancy are generally associated with good nutrition. Additionally, some research suggests that a diet high in polyunsaturated fatty acids is associated with a lower risk of premature birth. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are found in nuts, seeds, fish, and seed oils, so we recommend that you stick to diets rich in fruits and vegetables.
Avoiding hazardous substances is also extremely important. Smoking and the use of illegal drugs are associated with preterm delivery and congenital malformations in babies.
Certain conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity, increase the risk of preterm labor. It is also advised to visit a doctor immediately in case of abnormal vaginal discharge that can be due to infections, which are sometimes related to preterm labor.