Preterm Labor

GENERAL INFORMATION:

What is preterm labor? Preterm (premature) labor occurs when the uterus contracts and your cervix opens earlier than normal. The cervix is the opening of your uterus. In preterm labor, contractions are strong enough and often enough to allow the cervix to open for delivery of your baby. Preterm labor happens after the 20th week of pregnancy but before the 37th week of pregnancy. An early labor could cause you to have your baby before he is ready to be born.

What causes preterm labor? The cause is sometimes unknown. The following may cause early labor:

What increases my risk for preterm labor?

What are the signs and symptoms of preterm labor? You may not know that you are having preterm labor. It is common to have preterm contractions (tightening and relaxing of the uterus) and not notice them. The following are signs and symptoms that suggest a preterm labor:

How is preterm labor diagnosed? You may have one or more of the following tests to check for preterm labor:

How is preterm labor treated? Early treatment may delay delivery. You may need any of the following:

What are the risks of preterm labor? Preterm labor may cause you to have your baby before he is ready to be born. Your baby could have lung problems and other serious problems if he is premature.

When should I contact my caregiver? Contact your caregiver if:

When should I seek immediate care? Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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