An excerpt from The Birth Center Client Manual

Preterm labor is labor that occurs before the 37th week of pregnancy. It happens when the uterus contracts and makes the cervix open. The baby may be pushed out too soon. Babies born too early risk major illness and may not live. Babies born from 22 weeks to 37 weeks are considered pre-term and may need special care in a Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

What does preterm labor feel like?

Learn to recognize these signs of preterm labor to protect yourself and your baby.

Contractions: You may have contractions that are 10 minutes apart or closer. You may or may not experience pain during these contractions. Remember that urinary tract infections can predispose to contractions of the uterus. Symptoms may be pain and discomfort over the bladder when urinating.

Low, Dull Backache: You may feel a backache below your waistline. It may come and go or it may be constant.

Stomach Cramps: You may or may not experience diarrhea.

Pressure: The baby feels heavy or as if he/she is pushing down low in your pelvis. The pressure comes and goes.

Leaking or Gushing Fluid: If your water breaks you will feel a continuous light or heavy flow of fluid from your vagina.

Menstrual-Like Cramps: You may feel cramps, low or near your pelvic bone, as if before or during your period. They may come and go, or they may be constant.

Changes in Discharge: You may notice watery, mucous-like, or bloody (pink or brownish) discharge from your vagina.

If you are ever experiencing signs of preterm labor, call The Birth Center to speak with a midwife.