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Labor & Delivery: Preterm Labor

Early labor happens anytime before 37 weeks. Learn about the signs and different ways your doctor might try to slow down the labor.

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Preterm labor is when you're having contractions before you are 37 weeks pregnant. Signs that this could be happening are painful contractions. Contractions that feel like your whole uterus is getting very hard and painful at the same time. It is normal to have an occasional contraction throughout the day. But they should not be timeable. You shouldn't be able to say you're having that same feeling every 10 or 15 minutes. It they are happening on a regular basis, that's a reason to call your doctor right away. A lot of people worry that having pelvic pressure and low back pain are also signs of preterm labor. These are very common symptoms that you may have throughout your pregnancy. In general, pain that you can make go away by changing position, by resting, is nothing to worry about. If it is a pain that you cannot make go away, then you should call your doctor. If you're having preterm contractions before 34 weeks, your doctor will probably give you medicine to try to stop those contractions. One of the commonly used medications is nifedipine, a pill that you can take that will slow down your contractions. Your doctors may also give you medicine to help the baby, should the baby be born early. One of these medicines is a steroid injection, which will help accelerate fetal lung maturity. Another medicine often given is antibiotics to help an infection, just in case that is the reason why you're in preterm labor in the first place. These medications can work for a couple of days, and sometimes, they work for weeks. But your doctor will do their best to do everything they can to make sure you and your baby are healthy.