Parenting a Premature Baby

Signs of Preterm Labor

Would you recognize preterm labor? Familiarize yourself with the following signs and contact your healthcare provider right away if you experience one or more.

  • Contractions every 10 minutes or more frequently.
  • Bleeding or leaking fluid from the vagina.
  • Pelvic pressure.
  • A low, dull backache.
  • Period-like cramps.
  • Abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea.

Help for Families of Preemies

"Having a premature baby can be a very isolating experience," says Melissa Middleton, of Oklahoma City, who gave birth to quadruplets at 25 weeks' gestation. Three of her children survived, but one son died as a result of complications from an infection. She found emotional reassurance by connecting with parents of other preterm babies at, which is part of the March of Dimes' NICU Family Support project, a hospital-based educational and comfort program that will be available nationwide by the end of 2007. "Whether it's through the March of Dimes, your hospital, or your community, I encourage parents of premature babies to get connected to others as soon as possible," says Middleton.

Kristen Finello is a freelance writer in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, and the mother of a daughter.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, November 2006.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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