Information for Patients
Also called: Early Labor, Premature Birth, Premature Labor, Preterm Birth
Preterm labor is labor that starts before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. It can lead to premature birth. Premature babies may face serious health risks.
Symptoms of preterm labor include
- Contractions every 10 minutes or more often
- Leaking fluid or bleeding from the vagina
- Feeling of pressure in the pelvis
- Low, dull backache
- Cramps that feel like menstrual cramps
- Abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea
If you think you might be having preterm labor, contact your health care provider.
NIH: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Twins, Triplets, Multiple Births
If you are pregnant with more than one baby, you are far from alone. Multiple births are up in the United States. More women are having babies after age 30 and more are taking fertility drugs. Both boost the chance of carrying more than one baby. A family history of twins also makes multiples more likely.
Years ago, most twins came as a surprise. Now, most women know about a multiple pregnancy early. Women with multiple pregnancies should see their health care providers more often than women who are expecting one baby. Multiple pregnancy babies have a much higher risk of being born prematurely and having a low birth weight. There is also more of a risk of disabilities. Some women have to go on bed rest to delay labor. Finally, they may deliver by C-section, especially if there are three babies or more.
Parenting multiples can be a challenge. Volunteer help and support groups for parents of multiples can help.
Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health