Preterm labor occurs between weeks 20 and 37 of pregnancy. It can cause premature labor, so be aware of the symptoms.

If you’re between 20 and 37 weeks pregnant and you’re noticing contractions, you may be going into preterm labor . If so, you have to go to the hospital immediately so that the doctors can make an evaluation of the situation, since you could have a baby that is born prematurely.

However, so that you have more information about premature labor, in this article we will talk about the causes, symptoms and possible consequences.


If you have any of the following symptoms, you may be going into preterm labor:

  • Contractions every 10 minutes or less, lasting between 20 seconds and 2 minutes. You should also go to the emergency room if you have more than 24 contractions a day, these last about 40 seconds and do not go away even if you change position or rest.
  • Rupture of the amniotic sac .
  • Expulsion of the mucous plug.
  • Mild vaginal bleeding.
  • Vaginal discharge that looks different than usual or has a little blood in it.
  • Dull and constant pain in the lower back.
  • Abdominal cramps or similar to those caused by menstruation.
  • Sensation of pressure in the hip, inner thighs, and pelvis.
  • Chills and fever.


Why does preterm labor occur? The reasons can be various, but they can also occur in pregnant women who do not have any known risk factor a priori.

If you had to look for a cause that can lead to preterm labor, the most common are the following:

  • Having had a previous premature birth .
  • Multiple pregnancies.
  • Any problem with the placenta, cervix, or uterus.
  • Consumption of drugs.
  • smoking.
  • Suffer an infection in the genital area or in the mouth.
  • Having a chronic disease, such as diabetes or hypertension.
  • Go through some traumatic or stressful moment.
  • Having suffered vaginal bleeding during pregnancy.
  • Excess amniotic fluid.
  • Some congenital defect in the fetus.
  • Having become pregnant before six months have elapsed since the last birth.


As we said at the beginning, if you think you are going into premature labor, you have to go to the hospital immediately, as it can cause premature labor, with all the consequences that this entails: low birth weight of the baby, difficulty breathing, propensity to suffering from an infection, vision problems, cardiovascular problems, digestive difficulties or organs that have not yet fully developed, among others.


Sometimes having a premature baby cannot be prevented, but it is known that certain precautions can reduce the chances of this happening. That is why it is advisable that you follow a series of recommendations:

  • Go to all prenatal visits. In them, in addition to checking that the pregnancy is going well, you can notify the doctor if there is something that worries you.
  • Eat in a balanced and healthy way. Polyunsaturated fats (found in nuts or fish) are known to reduce the risk of preterm birth.
  • Avoid tobacco and illegal drugs.

In addition, the doctor may consider it appropriate to take additional measures to reduce the risk of preterm birth. There are preventative medications, such as progesterone.

If despite all precautions you go into premature labor, doctors will try to stop the process by means of drugs. When there is a risk of premature birth, the important thing is to guarantee the baby’s lung maturation, something that is done using corticosteroids. When administering tocolytics, the aim is to buy time so that the corticosteroids can act.

Depending on the evolution, you will be able to go home or you will have to be admitted to control the pregnancy. In many cases it is possible to stop these symptoms of preterm labor and delivery eventually occurs at term.

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