Preterm Labor: Symptoms and What to Do

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Preterm Labor Symptoms

Il preterm labor occurs when regular contractions cause the cervix to open after the twentieth week and before the 37th of pregnancy and this can lead to premature birth. The specific cause of preterm labor is often unclear. Some risk factors may increase the likelihood but preterm delivery can also occur in pregnant women with no known risk factors. But what are the symptoms of preterm labor and how can we prevent and intervene?

In this article

  • Causes of premature birth
  • Prevention
  • How to recognize the symptoms of premature labor
  • Guidelines for the Threat of Abortion

Causes of premature birth

Often the precise cause of premature birth is unclear. However, some risk factors are known which include:

  • Having had a previous premature birth
  • Multiple pregnancy
  • An interval of less than six months between pregnancies
  • In vitro fertilization
  • Uterine, cervix or placenta problems
  • Smoking or drugs
  • Infections of the amniotic fluid or lower genital tract
  • Hypertension, diabetes and other chronic diseases
  • Being underweight or overweight before pregnancy
  • Stress and traumatic events during pregnancy
  • Miscarriages or multiple miscarriages
  • Physical injury or trauma.
Read also: Premature birth and preterm birth


Although the cause of preterm delivery often remains unknown, there are some things we can do to reduce the risk of preterm delivery:

  • Progestinici: this treatment is started during the second trimester and continued until just before delivery and is recommended for women at risk, such as those who have already had previous premature births. In this regard, it should be remembered that Aifa has recognized progesterone in vaginal capsules as a class A drug, including it among the essential drugs for the prevention of preterm birth in single pregnancies with shortened cervix.
  • If the cervix dilates, you can intervene with tocolysis with magnesium sulfate, a calcium channel blocker, or, if the fetus is ≤ 32 weeks, with a prostaglandin inhibitor.

How to recognize the symptoms of premature labor

Symptoms of preterm labor include:

  • Regular or frequent feeling of abdominal twitching (twitching)
  • Dull and intense back pain in the lower and lower back
  • A feeling of pressure in the pelvic or lower abdomen
  • Mild abdominal cramps
  • Vaginal spotting or light bleeding
  • Premature rupture of membranes: manifested by a gush or continuous trickle of fluid after the membrane around the baby has ruptured or torn
  • Change in vaginal discharge that becomes watery, mucus-like, or bloody.

Guidelines for the Threat of Abortion

The guidelines for managing the preterm labor include several indications and recommendations for healthcare professionals, such as:

  • Cerclage of the uterus: this is a small surgery that is carried out under general anesthesia, it is done by inserting a small circular band in the uterine cervix, designed to "close" it and prevent it from dilating and shortening triggering a premature birth. It is indicated during pregnancy in women with a short cervix or a history of cervical shortening.
  • Corticosteroids if the gestational age is <34 weeks (antenatal steroid prophylaxis)
  • Rest in bed and hydration
  • Antibiotics active on group B streptococci, pending culture results that are performed to diagnose any infection in progress.


  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Practice Bulletin No. 171: Management of preterm labor.
  • El paesena Society of Perinatal Medicine
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