When your body gets ready to deliver well before the due date, usually before the 37th week of pregnancy, you experience preterm labour. Your doctor would check for your baby’s health and advise immediate delivery in most of the cases. While most of the preemies (the common name for preterm babies) go on to recover quickly with the excellent care that they get in the NICU, some of them may take a longer time to recover.
Preterm is defined as babies born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy are completed. There are sub-categories of preterm birth, based on gestational age:
- Extremely preterm (less than 28 weeks)
- Very preterm (28 to 32 weeks)
- Moderate to late preterm (32 to 37 weeks).
- Regular or frequent sensations of abdominal tightening (contractions)
- Constant low, dull backache
- A sensation of pelvic or lower abdominal pressure
- Mild abdominal cramps
- Vaginal spotting or light bleeding
- Preterm rupture of membranes — in a gush or a continuous trickle of fluid after the membrane around the baby breaks or tears
- A change in type of vaginal discharge — watery, mucus-like or bloody
– Not all of this symptoms lead you to delivering a pre term baby, but it is always better to remain caution and get symptoms check with your doctor.
WHAT TO DO AVOID PRETERM LABOUR
You can aim to correct certain lifestyle habits that are under your control to prevent going into preterm labour. It is highly recommended that you quit smoking and drinking right when you know you are pregnant; if possible quit while you start planning for a baby. Also, considering a gap of at least 2 years between your pregnancies is a good idea to have a healthy and full-term pregnancy. Eating healthy meals and getting timely prenatal care can also prevent this condition.