Labor & Delivery – Preterm Labor

Preterm labor is the presence of contractions with cervical dilatation occurring prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy. However, when this occurs prior to 34 weeks, your doctor may be more aggressive at stopping labor. You may need to be hospitalized and placed on medications to help relax your uterus. You may also be given a steroid injection to help speed the baby’s lung development and help prevent bleeding into the baby’s brain, should the baby deliver early. Sometimes antibiotics are given, as infection may be a precipitating factor in preterm labor. When released from the hospital, you will be placed on bed-rest until the baby is delivered, or until you reach term status.

It is not uncommon for contractions to occur irregularly and mildly throughout pregnancy. You may notice more uterine activity in the evenings, when your bladder is full, and when participating in rigorous activities. If you are experiencing 4-6 contractions in an hour, please rest and drink plenty of water. If they do not go away rather quickly, or they worsen, go to labor and delivery at the hospital so that we may check your cervix and monitor uterine activity. You do not need to call first, as the nurses will call your physician when you arrive. Also, if you think your water has broken, even if you are not experiencing contractions, please go to the hospital.