What happens if you go into labor prematurely?

Most mothers go into labor between 38 to 42 weeks. When labor occurs between the 20 th and 37 th week of pregnancy, it’s a preterm or premature labor. Preterm labor increases the risk of health problems for the baby. This means the baby will need specialized medical care in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, such as the Level II NICU at Regional Medical Center of San Jose.

Understand the risks of premature delivery
Not all women who go into premature labor will deliver prematurely, since it’s can be possible to stop contractions. And even when a baby is born too soon, he or she might not have serious medical problems. However, expecting mothers may wish to know about the risks to the baby’s health, such as the following:

  • Breathing problems
  • Developmental delay
  • Learning disability
  • Digestive problems
  • Brain/neurological complications

If you’re at a higher risk of premature labor, it’s particularly important to receive prenatal care from an experienced obstetrician who has admitting privileges at an NICU hospital.

Know the warning signs of premature labor
Women who go into premature labor may notice any of the following:

  • Backache
  • Pelvic pressure
  • Abdominal cramps, with or without diarrhea
  • Menstrual-like cramping
  • Fluid leakage from the vagina
  • Uterine contractions

Know what to do when premature contractions start
If you suspect you’re going into preterm labor, call your doctor right away. Your doctor will either instruct you to go to the hospital or to try the following steps:

  • Urinate
  • Lie down on your left side (not on your back)
  • Drink lots of water
  • Keep track of your contractions for an hour

If the symptoms become worse or still linger after an hour, it’s time to go to the hospital. The doctor may give you medications to slow or halt the contractions and prevent premature delivery . Some women are also given corticosteroids, which are drugs that help the baby’s lungs and brain reach maturity faster.

Family Birthing Center at Regional Medical Center of San Jose features a Level II NICU for all of your little miracle’s extra medical needs. Our multilingual obstetrics staff is committed to improving outcomes for preterm births, and each family can expect exceptional amenities and supportive care. Call (888) 762-8881 to request a referral to an obstetrics specialist in our hospital in San Jose.

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