Childbirth will take place after 40 weeks of full-term pregnancy when the baby is fully developed. But in some cases, women go into labor before 37 weeks which is known as preterm or premature labor. Preterm labor can lead to preterm birth, putting the baby at risk, with lifelong health issues. There are different levels of prematurity
- Late preterm,baby born between 34 and 36 completed weeks of pregnancy
- Moderately preterm,born in-between 32 and 34 weeks
- Very preterm,born between 28 to 32 weeks of pregnancy
- Extremely preterm,born before 28 weeks of pregnancy
Causes of premature birth-
All women are at risk of having preterm labor and birth. You need to be careful and well monitored by your doctor because it’s not always possible to explain the causes of preterm birth. It happens because of many risk factors such as infection, placental problems, having a short cervix, if you are having twins, fewer intervals between pregnancies, genetic problems, uterine abnormality, water breaking early, type 1 and type2 diabetes in pregnancy, lifestyle factors such as low pregnancy weight, poor nutrition before or during pregnancy, and an abnormal uterus.
Some woman may have a chance of delivering early if they are very young below 17 or more than 35 years of age.
Symptoms of preterm labor –
Signs that may indicate you that you are about to go into labor –
- You may have contractions every 10 mins or more frequently
- You may feel an increase in pelvic pressure within the vagina or rectum
- An increase in discharge, which means your waters are broken,
- Bleeding or losing your muscle plug
- Pain in your abdomen and back just like menstrual cramps
- May need to urinate frequently
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
If you have any of these above symptoms immediately call your doctor and visit the hospital.
Risks in preterm birth –
Preterm or premature birth is a leading cause of infant death. A birth which occurs before 37 weeks of pregnancy is at a greater risk because the baby’s vital organs are still not formed fully such as lungs, heart, and brain. The earlier born baby is more likely to have health problems.
Preterm babies may have different complications like breathing problems, heart problems, feeding difficulty, cerebral palsy, development delay, vision issues, hearing problems, low weight, and inability to maintain body temperature constantly, less active, weakness in hands and legs, the baby will look very pale or yellow skin.
Some premature babies are born with life-threatening conditions like brain hemorrhage, pulmonary hemorrhage, neonatal sepsis, pneumonia, patent ductus arteriosus, anemia, and neonatal respiratory distress syndrome. Some of these can be treated and some may result in long term disability or illness.