Q&A: Am I in Preterm Labor?

Dr. Elizabeth Pryor answers the question, Could I be suffering from preterm labor?


I am 21 weeks pregnant with my fourth baby and I'm having severe contractions. I have preterm labor every time. Are my contractions stronger because it is my fourth or could it be preterm labor again?


Certainly it could be preterm labor, and that is the greatest concern. With a fourth baby, Braxton Hicks contractions are more common and occur earlier. However, it is very important that you have a cervical check by your doctor to make sure that you are not in preterm labor.

You may have the contractions yet not thin your cervix, and that is why it is important to be checked by your doctor. If you are experiencing preterm labor, there are medications that can be used that may stop the labor.

Having a previous preterm baby certainly increases your risk for preterm labor/delivery with this baby. It is very important that you speak with your doctor and have an examination. Brethine is a pill that some doctors use to decrease uterine contractions. However, frankly, this use is somewhat controversial. Some doctors feel that it does not work and others believe it does. There are reported cases of it contributing to heart and lung problems in the mother.

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

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