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Preterm Labor: What You Can Do Now

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 205 views

Premature labor worries every pregnant woman – the fear of a premature birth increases. But it only becomes dangerous when the cervix opens during these contractions. Then there is an urgent need for action. Find out here what promotes preterm labour, how to recognize preterm labor and what to do when it happens.

What is preterm labor?

Preterm labor is the so-called opening contraction that begins before the expected due date. The contractions of the smooth muscles of the uterine wall (uterine muscles) cause the cervix, i.e. the neck of the womb (cervix), to open. Only such cervical contractions are actually true preterm labor. If the baby is born before the 37th week of pregnancy due to premature labour , it is called a premature birth .

Identify preterm labor

Any pregnant woman is quick to worry when contractions occur before her due date. However, what is most likely to happen is that exercise contractions or contractions are causing the uncomfortable pulling in your abdomen. However, if you notice uterine contractions over a longer period of time and at short intervals (more than three times an hour), you must assume premature labor . Sometimes preterm labor is accompanied by lower back pain and is not relieved by heat. You may also feel the child pushing down. If you have any of these signs, you should definitely see a doctor. If there is additional bleeding or if the amniotic sac bursts, you must go to the clinic immediately!

How does the doctor diagnose preterm labor?

In the practice or clinic, the doctor will use various tests to determine whether you have actually started contractions. The gynecologist first checks whether – or how far – the cervix is ​​dilated. The ultrasound scan helps determine the length of the cervix and allows a view of the baby. Whether the child is doing well can also be seen on the contraction recorder (cardiotocograph, CTG), which records not only the child’s heartbeat but also the strength and frequency of the premature contractions.

Even if your doctor diagnoses you with preterm labor, this does not automatically mean that you are going to give birth prematurely. The cause of preterm labor plays a role here.

Reasons for Preterm Labor

Preterm labor can have physical and psychological causes. Illnesses in the mother or child can trigger premature labor just as much as stress and psychological strain, for example. Very often, premature labor is a non-specific response to a general overload.

Risk factors for premature labor include:

  • previous premature birth or miscarriage
  • multiple pregnancy
  • Malformations and malformations in the child (open spine = spina bifida), the placenta ( placental insufficiency) , the cervix ( cervical insufficiency ) or the uterus (fibroids)
  • too much amniotic fluid (hydramnios)
  • Maternal diseases: vaginal infection, pregnancy -related high blood pressure ( preeclampsia ), diabetes mellitus , fever , depression
  • unfavorable social living conditions: poor school education, unemployment, single, unwanted pregnancy
  • unhealthy lifestyle of the mother: nicotine, alcohol, malnutrition or malnutrition
  • Age of the pregnant woman under 18 years or over 35 years

treatment of preterm labor

If you go into labor before the 37th week of pregnancy, you may be at risk of preterm birth. Doctors will try to delay this for as long as possible and prolong your pregnancy. However, terminating the pregnancy may also be what is best for your baby. Doctors must therefore always decide on a case-by-case basis what is right for mother and child.

Especially in the case of premature labor before the 34th week of pregnancy, it is crucial for the prognosis of the child that there is still some time. In this phase of pregnancy, the development of the child’s lungs is not yet complete. In order to prevent complications after birth, lung maturation must therefore be accelerated. The doctor will give you cortisone (glucocorticoid) for this purpose. They may also give you anti-labor drugs to buy you valuable time. If the situation is serious, your doctor will refer you to a clinic (perinatal center) that specializes in premature births.

Overall, depending on how strong and effective the preterm labor is and at what point in the pregnancy it occurs, different treatments are conceivable:

  • Labor inhibitors (tocolytics) : They inhibit premature labor. Due to cardiovascular side effects, however, they may only be taken between the 24th and 34th week of pregnancy and for a maximum of two days.
  • Progesterone : The hormone can prevent premature birth.
  • Relaxation: e.g. stress reduction, autogenic training, hypnosis, one-on-one psychological counseling, sedation, bed rest, less physical activity, etc.
  • Not having sex : Prostaglandins found in semen promote labor.
  • Antibiotics for vaginal infections: Tablets or vaginal pessaries if bacteria are detected after a vaginal swab.
  • Magnesium sulfate: It may prevent preterm labor, but its side effects are controversial.
  • Cervical Cervical Cervical Cervical Pessary : ​​A suture or silicone ring seals and stabilizes the cervix. The method can be used with cervical shortening, not after the 28th week of pregnancy .

Preterm labour: Not every clinic is suitable

If there is a risk that your baby will see the light of day too early, you must go to a clinic. But the nearest hospital is not always the right choice. Premature babies require intensive care in a well-equipped neonatal ward. Clinics without the appropriate equipment are therefore not allowed to admit women who are about to give birth before the 37th week of pregnancy. If you have premature labor and there is a risk of premature birth, the chances of having your baby in a qualified perinatal center are significantly better.

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