Preventing Prematurity

Preterm Labor Signs

If you are experiencing signs of preterm labor, your healthcare provider may ask you to go to the hospital for an examination. Once there, you'll probably undergo an internal exam to see if your cervix has begun to dilate, a sign that labor may be starting.

However, sometimes it's difficult for a doctor to tell if you're truly in labor, especially if your cervix isn't dilated. If this is the case, you may need additional tests, including a vaginal ultrasound to get a better look at your cervix, and a vaginal swab to measure levels of a substance called fibronectin.

Fibronectin, a protein produced in early pregnancy, acts as a glue between the fetal sac and uterine lining. When present in late pregnancy (between 22 and 34 weeks), fibronectin may indicate the possibility of preterm delivery. These diagnostic tests can accurately determine which women with contractions are unlikely to deliver in the next two weeks. The good news is that 80 percent of women who show signs of preterm labor don't deliver prematurely.

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