While it can be concerning for pregnant mothers doctors say preterm labor is very common and often can be treated if moms recognize the signs and symptoms. Dr. Natasha Bower, an OB/GYN on the medical staff of Lee Health, says it can happen at any point during pregnancy. “Preterm labor is cervical change with contractions.”
Dr. Bower says 20 to 50 percent of women who have preterm labor will go on to have a full term pregnancy. “There are instances where mothers will start to experience preterm labor and we’re able to stop it and then they won’t necessarily resume it until term.”
It’s important for moms to recognize the symptoms of preterm labor. Things like mild menstrual cramping, irregular contractions, light bleeding, or new onset pelvic pressure. “Any mom that’s having new symptoms of bleeding, any mom that’s having a new discharge that’s concerning, any mom that may be having regular contractions that are anywhere between six in an hour could be a concern that they may want to call their OB/GYN office,” said Dr. Bower.
While the cause is often unclear, doctors say risks for preterm labor are infections, bleeding, even stress and anxiety. “Other risk factors that could make someone’s symptoms more concerning for preterm labor is if they have multiple gestation, abnormal distention of the uterus, if they’ve had preterm labor in the past they’re at an increased risk,” said Dr. Bower.
It’s important for mothers to have regular visits with their doctor during pregnancy. “You would want to see your obstetrician gynecologist if you’re having any symptoms that could be concerning for preterm labor so that we can assess and manage it appropriately,” said Dr. Bower.
Depending on the circumstances, doctors may give patients a medication to help stop preterm labor and allow the baby to develop for a full term delivery.
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Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care.