Important information about preterm labor and birth
Preterm labor and birth occurs when labor or birth begins between 20 and 36 weeks of pregnancy. It’s also known as premature labor and birth. Babies who are born preterm may have health issues at birth or later in life. Our Southlake obgyns work with mothers-to-be to ensure that they do not experience preterm labor and birth.
What are the risk factors for preterm labor and birth?
Certain factors increase the chances of preterm labor and birth.
- Prior preterm birth or labor
- Pregnancy with multiples
- Structural abnormalities such as a shortened cervix
- History of certain uterine or cervical surgeries
- Lifestyle choices such as smoking or substance abuse during pregnancy
- Vaginal bleeding
- Developing medical conditions during pregnancy such as diabetes, high blood pressure or urinary tract infections
- Having chronic medical conditions such as diabetes or hypertension before pregnancy
- Being extremely underweight or overweight prior to pregnancy
- Fetal abnormalities
- Getting pregnant six months or less after previously giving birth
- Developing a sexually transmitted infection before or during pregnancy
- Being younger than 18 or older than 35
During prenatal appointments, if our Southlake obgyns believe that a woman is at-risk for preterm labor and birth, she will be classified as having a high-risk pregnancy and receive extra monitoring.
What are the signs of preterm labor?
Our Southlake obgyns want women to be aware of the signs of preterm labor and birth. If a woman notices any of the six signs listed, she should call our physicians immediately.
- Changes in type or amount of vaginal discharge, including bloody, watery or mucus-like discharge
- A feeling of pressure in the lower belly or pelvic area
- A low, dull and constant backache
- Abdominal cramps that may or may not be accompanied by diarrhea
- Frequent or regular contractions that may or may not be painful
- A gush or trickle of fluid that indicates a woman’s water is breaking
How is preterm labor managed?
When a woman begins to experience preterm labor and birth, our Southlake obgyns take immediate action. They perform a pelvic examination and may perform diagnostic tests such as a transvaginal ultrasound or a test to measure fetal fibronectin, which is a protein found in vaginal discharge that is linked to preterm labor and birth.
If a woman’s labor continues, the mother-to-be needs to be hospitalized, monitored and treated with medications that may delay birth. If the birth cannot be delayed, women can rest assured that every possible measure will be taken by our Southlake obgyns and hospital staff to care for the mother and her baby.
Our Southlake obgyns have the knowledge and experience to help women with high-risk pregnancies who may experience preterm labor and birth. Mothers-to-be who live in the Southlake area should contact us to schedule an appointment with our caring, experienced physicians, conveniently located in Grapevine.