I’m 34 weeks pregnant, and things have been going along smoothly with the pregnancy, until today. I’ve been having more vaginal discharge than usual, and I’m feeling quite crampy. I think something is wrong. Could I be experiencing preterm labour?
What is Preterm Labour?
Typically, labour occurs between the 37th and 42nd week of pregnancy. A baby born during this time is considered full term. Preterm labour occurs before the 37th week of pregnancy, and a baby born during this time is considered preterm.What is
What is the concern about a baby who is born preterm?
Preterm babies may:
- Have difficulty breathing, feeding and staying warm
- Be more susceptible to infections
- Stay longer in hospital
- Have increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
How do I know if I’m experiencing preterm labour?
You may be experiencing preterm labour if you have:
- Bad cramps or stomach pains that don’t go away
- Blood or fluid (trickle or gush) from the vagina
- Lower back pain/pressure, or a change in lower backache
- Feeling like the baby is pushing down
- Contractions or changes in the strength or number of contractions
- An increase in amount of vaginal discharge
- A feeling that “something is not quite right”
I’ve been healthy my entire pregnancy. Can preterm labour happen to me?
Yes, preterm labour can happen to anyone. In some cases, the reason or cause of preterm labour is not known. There are also some known risk factors that may cause preterm labour:
- Previous preterm birth
- Multiple births
- Being underweight
- High stress
- Infections of the teeth, kidneys, bladder and vagina
- Heavy physical work
- Illicit drug use
Can I do something to prevent preterm labour?
There is no way to completely prevent preterm labour from happening, but there are ways you can help to reduce the risk of it happening to you during your pregnancy:
- Start prenatal care as early as possible and see your health care provider regularly
- Take a prenatal program early in your pregnancy
- Try to cut down or quit smoking
- Take time to rest during the day
- Eat a balanced and nutritious diet
- Pay attention to your body
- Learn ways to cope with stress
- Talk to someone if there are problems with smoking, drugs or violence
What should I do if I think I’m experiencing preterm labour?
If you think you are experiencing preterm labour, go to the hospital right away where a health care professional can assess you.
Remember to always listen to your body, and if you have any questions or concerns about your pregnancy, talk to your health care provider.
For more information, connect with our nurse via eChat or call (416) 338-7600.