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Staying Healthy

Signs of Labor

Mother and child playing

What are the signs of labor?

  • You may have strong and regular contractions. A contraction is when the muscles of the uterus tighten up like a fist and then relax. Contractions help push the baby out.
  • Your contractions come about five to ten minutes apart.
  • Your contractions are so strong that you can't walk or talk during them.
  • Your water breaks. Your baby has been growing in amniotic fluid (bag of water) in the uterus. When the bag of water breaks, some women feel a big rush of water while others just feel a trickle.
  • You bleed a little from your vagina. This is called bloody show.

Signs of premature labor

Premature labor is labor that starts more than three weeks before your baby is due.

If your baby starts to come early, you can get help to stop contractions so your baby can be born healthy. Sometimes providers use bed rest to stop early labor but sometimes you may need to take medications to relax your uterus. Premature labor is usually not painful in the beginning but there are some warning signs you should know:

  • Lower abdominal cramping that sometimes feels like gas pains
  • A feeling of pressure in your vagina
  • Menstrual-like cramping
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Leaking of fluid from your vagina
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • A decrease in movements from baby

If you think you may be in labor call your provider, no matter what time of day or night.

What is Early Birth?

An early birth (also referred to as preterm birth) is when a baby is born more than three weeks early or before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Babies born too early can have many health problems such as: breathing problems, brain damage and vision problems.

17P does help lower your chances of early birth. There are some other things that you can do to help:

  • Go to all of your prenatal appointments (even if you feel okay)
  • Stay away from cigarette smoke or stop smoking if you currently smoke
  • Practice safe sex
  • Talk to your provider about any medications or herbal remedies that you are using
  • Rest and relax whenever possible
  • Eat healthy nutritious meals

Women who have had a prior early birth are 30-40% more likely to have another baby born too early.

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