Premature or preterm labor is when a woman goes into labor before the 37 th week of pregnancy, or three weeks before her due date. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the earlier pre-term labor is spotted and treated, the better chance of stopping it. When symptoms go untreated, the cervix may open and cause an early birth of the baby.
Premature babies need intensive care in the hospital to help with breathing, feeding, and regulation of body temperature. Any woman can have pre-term labor, but some women have a higher risk. Problems with the uterus or placenta and a history of pre-term birth with another pregnancy increase the risk of preterm labor. Dehydration also boosts the chances of pre-term labor.
So make sure your spouse drinks plenty of water especially in warm weather and after exercise to keep from becoming dehydrated. Call your doctor right away if your spouse displays any of these signs of premature labor:
- Contractions — She may or may not feel pain, but her abdomen or stomach will get very hard (feel like it is tightening) and then relax, on and off.
- Menstrual-like cramping — she may or may not be uncomfortable with these cramps that feel like menstrual cramps.
- Gas-type pains — Sharp pains in her stomach, diarrhea or nausea may be a sign of trouble.
- Low pelvic pressure — She may feel like the baby is putting a lot of pressure down very low inside.
- Low backache — She may have a very strong ache in her lower back or could just feel a dull ache in that area.
- Blood from her vagina — Light spotting or a significant amount of blood should be reported to the doctor right away. Blood can be red or brown in color.
Increased discharge from her vagina — Much more discharge than what she is used to during her pregnancy can be a sign of preterm labor. A sudden gush of a lot of water, or a small trickle that is continuous should also be reported to the doctor. Discharge can be watery, pinkish, or brownish in color.