Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Preterm Labor Signs

Good morning!
It's interesting going back to the websites that I used to visit on an hourly basis when I was suffering from preterm labor with the triplets (14 weeks of bedrest).  Sometimes it's nice to know that my doctors and I were able to overcome preterm labor that started at 20 weeks, but other times I get sad looking at these sites.  I have met many women through Facebook, message boards, my blog and a couple women who live down the street, who weren't as lucky as me.  Why was I lucky?  I'll never know...maybe it was to spread the message of hope.

The March of Dimes' website was the site that I found had the most useful information.  The following is from there website and can be found here.  My comments are in bold blue.

Signs and symptoms of preterm labor and what to do
Preterm or premature labor happens when you go into labor before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. This is too early for your baby to be born. Babies born too soon can have
lifelong or life-threatening health problems. 

***With the triplets, I started irregularly contracting at 13 weeks.  When I went to my 20 Week appointment, I felt great, really great.  I had no idea that my cervix had shortened from 4.6cm to 1.1cm in the preceding week.

Can preterm labor be stopped? 
Many women are given drugs to try to delay or stop preterm labor. In some cases, birth can be delayed long enough to transport Mom to a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Women may also be given medications that can improve the baby's health, even if the baby comes early. 

***Ultimately, I was given 50mg of Indomethacin, a terbutaline pump and progesterone suppositories.  My doctors and I believe that the Indomethacin made all the difference, but it is a scary drug.  It can cause the baby's brain and heart to bleed as well as the ductus arteriosus to close, which would cause premature death.  Therefore, I had to have fetal echocardiograms done weekly to insure that the babies were fine.

Warning signs of preterm labor 
  • Contractions (your abdomen tightens like a fist) every 10 minutes or more often
  • Change in vaginal discharge (leaking fluid or bleeding from your vagina)
  • Pelvic pressure—the feeling that your baby is pushing down
  • Low, dull backache
  • Cramps that feel like your period
  • Abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea
What should I do if I think I'm having preterm labor?
Call your health care provider (nurse, doctor or midwife) or go to the hospital right away if you think you're having preterm labor, or if you have any of the warning signs. Call even
if you have only one sign. 
***At one point my cervix shortened to 5mm.  I called the doctor's office, because I knew something wasn't right.  The receptionist said that there wasn't any time to see me that day, so I agreed that I would wait until the next day.  DO NOT DO THIS  If you have a feeling that something is wrong go to the hospital.  I'm lucky my water didn't break that night.

Your health care provider may tell you to:
  • Come into the office or go to the hospital for a checkup.
  • Stop what you're doing. Rest on your left side for one hour.
  • Drink 2-3 glasses of water or juice (not coffee or soda). 

***The March of Dimes provides additional, in-depth information.  You can find it HERE.

I wrote a book (not yet published) about my journey to motherhood.   Some of the chapters are available:


  1. As someone who went through a stillbirth at 30 weeks, with many friends with similar stories, I cannot agree with your statement more - if you feel something is wrong SEEK HELP. Almost every mom I know that went through this had a gut feeling that something was going on, but brushed it aside, putting faith elsewhere. Don't be afraid to fight for your unborn baby! (loving reading your blog, Laura)

    1. Kelley,
      I'm so sorry that you've experienced a stillbirth. My heart aches for you. As I mentioned, I can imagine all the pain you've experienced, but my heart has never had to feel the devastation of realizing that loss.

      My blog is a week and a half old and I'm still trying to figure out if I'm "doing" it right. I want to balance my story with useful information.

      Thank you for your comment.