As many of you know, November 17th was Prematurity Awareness Day. That day, I participated, along with many other bloggers, in the Bloggers Unite campaign to raise awareness about the prematurity epidemic in our country. We shared insight, personal stories, and love. I did a short piece that included a few ways to prevent delivering a premature infant. I wanted to add more to that post but it was getting pretty long so I decided to save the second half for another day and today is that day….
While a premature birth is not always preventable, it’s important to understand that for many, preterm labor, with early detection can be stopped or delayed. As I mentioned in the previous post, every hour, day, week inside the womb is another good moment for your growing baby.
There are a number of signs that could indicate that you may be experiencing preterm labor. While these things in and of themselves do not mean you are having pre-term labor, you should pay attention to and mention them to your provider. Unfortunately, some signs of pre-term labor are also known “normal discomforts of pregnancy.” The KEY is to be in-tune to your body so that you can be aware of a change, a shift, a feeling that something is different or “just not right.” Like my previous list of prevention tips this list is in no way all inclusive but I hope it gives you some insight into some of the of the things that may indicate you could be experiencing pre-term labor and you should get them checked out…
First of all… If you are having… PAIN… LEAKING WATER from your vagina… Strong CRAMPING/Abdominal pain… RED BLEEDING. Get it checked out TODAY!!! Do not delay. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200 dollars. Call your doctor or go to the hospital and get evaluated NOW!
Okay … now that I have said that…
Are you having an increased amount of discharge that is DIFFERENT from what you have had during most of your pregnancy? Increased vaginal discharge during pregnancy is normal but is this different from what you have been experiencing? Do you find yourself needing/wanting to wear a pad to keep your panties dry? Get it checked out.
Does your discharge have a bad smell or are you also having a small amount of bleeding/spotting? You may have an infection that can be treated before it causes preterm labor or you may in fact be having preterm labor. Get it checked out.
Do you have burning when you urinate? Does it hurt to urinate? Get that checked out. A bladder/urinary tract infection can cause preterm labor.
Do you have a lot of contractions after having sex with your partner? YES… sex IS safe during pregnancy however if intercourse puts you into preterm labor, you may have to stop having vaginal sex or you may find that using condoms can help. Check with your provider and make a plan that works best for you.
Do you notice that your baby seems to “ball up” many times throughout the day?? Or do you have a low dull back ache/cramping that seems to come and go rhythmically throughout the day. Many women associate labor with PAIN. Preterm labor does not always come with pain. I often see a woman on the labor unit who is having preterm labor and as she is having a contraction she says “oh yea… my baby balls up like that all the time.” Once I help her understand that she is having a contraction she is then able to understand “OHHH that’s why I am 2cm dilated. I have been contracting for days.”
Not all early contractions are bad. It’s normal to have some Braxton hicks contractions starting as early as your second trimester but they should be virtually undetectable and few and far between. If over the course of a couple of hours you are feeling abdominal tightening or feeling your baby “balling up” 4-6 times in each hour get it checked out.
Do you have flu symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and especially diarrhea? During pregnancy these things can lead to preterm labor or may even indicate that you are having labor. Diarrhea has definitely been associated with labor. So if you are having any of these issues, get them checked out.
Again, this list is by no means all inclusive but is a simple list of some things you should think about/pay attention to. Above all else, get in tune with your body and with your baby. Know when something is changing and learn to go with your gut. On a primal internal level, you know if something is right or wrong. Listen to your gut and if you think something is happening… advocate for yourself and your infant and get it checked out. I would rather you check it out and learn nothing is wrong than to ignore a feeling and learn that your instinct was right. Take care of yourself and honor your feelings. Do all that you can to keep that baby growing inside your womb and celebrate the birth of a healthy full term infant!
In Birth and Love