Pre-term Labour – Care During an Emergency

Pre-term labour is a serious complication in pregnancy, that could have long-term effects on your baby. It is the main cause of infant death and lingering illnesses that could affect your baby’s future.

The following conditions usually signal an emergency, that needs immediate attention:


Any vaginal bleeding – a large gush or steady stream of bright red blood – signals an emergency. Get help immediately, lie on your side and put your feet higher than your head.

Rupture Of Amniotic Sac (Bag of water)

Sometimes the bag of water around the baby will rupture prematurely. If you notice a gush of fluid or a steady trickle of fluid you should call your doctor immediately. Be sure to note any color or odor that might be present in the fluid. Save pads or cloths and bring with you to the office or hospital.

Severe Pain In The Stomach

If you have constant severe pain (with or without contraction) that does not go away even when you change position, it is a sign of alarm. So call your doctor immediately.

What To Do If Contractions Start

Contractions are a normal part of all pregnancies. Most contractions do not thin and open the cervix. Rather, they are simply a brief stimulation of the uterine muscle. This can happen when your fetus is moving a lot, when your bladder or bowel is full, or when you are dehydrated. These non-labour contractions are irregularly timed and uncomfortable rather than painful.

Preterm labour contractions tend to be regularly timed, becoming more frequent, painful, and prolonged (30 to 60 seconds) as they progress. You may also notice low back pain, thigh pain, or increased vaginal discharge or bleeding.

If you are less than 37 weeks pregnant and your uterus is contracting more than usual, the following steps may stop your contractions:

  • Drink 2 or 3 glasses of water or juice (not having enough liquids can cause contractions)
  • Stop what you are doing, empty your bladder, and lie down on your left side for at least an hour
  • If your symptoms get worse during the hour, call your doctor or go to the hospital

When you have every reason to suspect that you are experiencing pre-term labour, here’s what you need to do:

  • Call your Doctor or hospital immediately
  • Go to the bathroom and empty your bladder
  • Check to make sure you have not missed a dose of any medication you might be taking
  • Maintain adequate fluid intake
  • Rest, lying down on your left side
  • Monitor your uterine activity, with self-palpation
  • Do not drive yourself to the hospital, as strong contractions can make driving dangerous

When you reach the hospital, your temperature, pulse and blood pressure will be taken first. A fetal monitor may be placed on your abdomen to see if you are having contractions and to check your baby’s heart rate.

If you are in labor, and your Doctor feels your pregnancy should be prolonged, treatment may include bed rest, I.V. fluids, medications, and continued monitoring of your contractions and your baby’s heart rate. If you are not in labor, or having any other problems, you may be allowed to go home.


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