Preterm birth – When the birth happens before the 21 and 37 weeks of gestation it is considered premature birth. Being born prematurely can have negative consequences for the baby, depending on the degree of prematurity. So it is important to recognize the warning signs of premature delivery.
Approximately ten percent of women experience signs of preterm birth at some point in their pregnancy. But in many cases, it is possible to stop the symptoms of childbirth and finally birth occurs at term.
Recognizing the alarm signals is very important for the early detection of this increasingly common complication. In this way, it is more feasible to act in time so that the baby continues to develop in the womb until he is ready to be born.
Symptoms and warning signs of preterm labor
- Increased frequency of contractions: regular contractions every 15 minutes or less, lasting 20 seconds to 2 minutes each between week 21 and 37 of gestation.
- Vaginal bleeding: A metrorrhagia (vaginal bleeding from the uterus not associated with the menstrual cycle) in the second or third trimester may be the precedent of a preterm birth.
- Expulsion of the mucous plug: although it is not a sign of imminent delivery, expulsion of the mucous plug is a symptom that the cervix begins to dilate. The appearance of the mucous plug is mucous, viscous and thick.
- Shortening and effacing of the cervix: this is something that can only be verified by the doctor, but sometimes the cervix dilates prematurely without pain. It may be an incompetent cervix .
- Increase and change of vaginal fluid: expulsion of vaginal discharge that may vary in color and consistency. It may be clear of mucous appearance (mucous plug) or become pink or brownish.
- Amniotic pouch rupture: rupture of membranes is an unequivocal sign that labor will occur in the next few hours. While it may not be imminent, it is not usually expected more than 24 hours for fear of an infection.
- Abdominal cramps or cramps: for more than one hour (with or without diarrhea)
- Intense pressure in the pelvis, hips and inner thigh: You may have the feeling that the baby was being expelled.
- Continuous pain in the lower back
- Feeling restlessness and uneasiness
- There may be increased body temperature and chills
What to do before the symptoms of preterm birth
- If there are regular contractions, lie on your side on the left side. If the contractions still do not stop within an hour, you should see a doctor.
- Staying hydrated: drinking 2 to 3 cups of water. Increases the volume of blood in the body. On the contrary, dehydration decreases blood volume and increases the concentration of oxytocin. The hormone responsible for uterine contractions.
- Watch for fluid from the vagina, either transparent (may be a fissure in the bag) or bloody (could be the mucous plug). If there is, you must transfer the pregnant woman to the hospital.
- In the hospital, the doctor will evaluate the condition of the baby and the most possible is to give you medication to stop labor, called tocolytics. In some cases, the pregnant woman may go home once the contractions have stopped. While others must remain in the hospital, depending on the dilation of the cervix and the progress of pregnancy.
Regular prenatal medical check-ups decrease the chances of preterm birth. So it’s critical that you go to all appointments early in pregnancy.
Even so, many pregnant women experience signs of preterm birth at some point in their pregnancy. Knowing to identify them in time is very important to try, as much as possible, to prevent a preterm birth.