Labor and delivery can be a very exciting time, but if you experience a preterm labor, it can be a scary experience. The average pregnancy lasts 37 weeks, which is nine months. It takes a total of nine months before a child is fully developed in the womb. Going into labor before it is time puts your baby at risk because they are not developed. The lungs are not completely developed until week 36. After birth, the lungs are still developing. A preterm labor is a labor that takes place before your 37th week. It is hard to determine when you will go into labor, but several factors put you at risk for preterm labor.
The development of a child is intricate and done in steps. During development, the body starts out in layers. You have the outer layer, middle layer, and inner layer. These layers then form into the organs, muscles, and skin. The outer layer creates the skin. The middle layer makes muscle. The inner layer produces organs. The first four months are crucial in development. At this time the child is going through organ generation. Children do not typically survive birth if they are born before 25 weeks. With the increase in science and technology some children are surviving at 23 weeks. The longer you are in the womb, the higher your chance of survival. At 25 weeks, you only have a 50% chance of survival. At 26 weeks, your chances of survival increase to 80%.
Risks of Preterm Labor
There are several reasons why you may go into preterm labor. Sometimes preterm labor can be explained. Other times it is unexplainable. There is nothing you as the mother could have done differently to prevent it. The risks of preterm labor include smoking, alcohol, and drug use, as well as improper prenatal care all, affect child development. These things can be controlled. Being overweight and underweight also causes problems in development and labor. Weight is harder to control, but it can be controlled as well. Sometimes pregnancy brings other health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and blood clots. Birth defects and multiples also increase your risks. Fertilization treatments do not cause preterm labor, but it can increase your risk. In vitro fertilization is one of the fertilization treatments that comes with a risk of preterm labor. Sometimes preterm labor runs in families. If your mother had a preterm labor with you or other children, you could be at risk for it too.
If you have had a child previously, you know the symptoms of labor. When you are going into preterm labor, you may not know what it is going on. The symptoms are unexpected. The first symptom is back pain. The back pain will be in the lower back, and no matter what you do, it does not let up. You will also experience cramping and contractions. The contractions are usually about 10 minutes apart, and the cramps feel like menstrual cramps. The pressure will be tremendous in the vagina. Vaginal discharge will occur, and the discharge may include bleeding. A rare symptom includes flu-like symptoms. You may have vomiting and diarrhea; this is one of the most serious symptoms.
Even with all the symptoms, sometimes you think it is nothing. Many women go into false labor, but there are distinct differences between the two. In the case of false labor, you do have contractions. They do not happen in a specific time frame. When going into labor, you have contractions 10 minutes apart which shortens to 8 minutes apart and then 5 minutes apart. In false labor, the contractions do not get closer together. They even stop when you change positions sometimes. If you feel the need to go to the hospital, do it right away. There are ways to stop preterm labor.
You may not think there is a treatment for preterm labor, but there are several things a physician can do to keep the child in you. Putting you on IV fluids is the first step. Sometimes you need to be hydrated. Medication may stop labor by relaxing the uterus. Antibiotics can help when there is an infection. If the doctor cannot stop labor, they may give you medication to help with the lung development of your child. The next step is delivery.
If you go into preterm labor, and it cannot be stopped, the doctors prepare you for delivery. It can be very scary. You should not feel bad because about 1 in 10 women has premature babies. As stated earlier, the chances of your child’s survival are dependent upon the age of gestation. Once your child is born, they are cared for by the doctors until they feel the child is strong enough to go home. If you are at least seven months pregnant, risks are greatly decreased, and the child may not need to stay in the hospital very long. If you are pregnant, be aware of the things that can cause preterm labor. If you notice any abnormal symptoms, talk with your physician. For any emergencies, go to the hospital right away.
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