Signs and symptoms of preterm labor

Preterm labor can show different signs as it approaches at different times, and even women who have had previous preterm deliveries can be taken off-guard by preterm labor, so it’s a good idea to know all of the different ways it could first appear.

Babies who are born prematurely can face challenges that babies who are carried to term might not, but with prompt medical care, most babies who are born preterm grow into happy, healthy children.

Signs of preterm labor include:

  • Change in vaginal discharge: This change can either be in type (becoming thicker or thinner, or bloody) or in the amount, if discharge significantly increases.
  • Pelvic aches/pressure: Aches can come and go during pregnancy, but a consistent aching or feeling of pressure either in the lower back or lower abdomen or pelvis can be a sign of early labor, whether the feeling comes and goes or is constant.
  • Ruptured membranes: These can present as either a trickle or a flood of amniotic fluid
  • Cramps: Mild abdominal cramps, which are sometimes accompanied by diarrhea, can be a sign of labor whether they come and go or are constant.
  • Contractions: Early contractions can be nothing more than a mild, painless uterine tightening, if that tightening feeling either happens regularly or often, or starts to come faster. Five or more contractions in an hour are usually a good indication that labor could be underway.
  • Intense lower backache: Many women notice lower back pain at the beginning of labor
  • Vaginal bleeding: Regardless of the cause, those who notice vaginal bleeding should check in with their healthcare provider as soon as possible.

It may be hard to tell whether or not you are in labor but it’s a good idea to reach out to your provider if you experience any of the symptoms described above, even if you aren’t certain.

You can read more about the risk factors for preterm birth by tapping here.

You can also read more about preventing preterm birth by tapping here.

  • “Signs of preterm labor.” MarchofDimes. March of Dimes Foundation, Jan 2013. Web.
  • “Management of Preterm Labor.” AHRQ. AHRQ Publication No. 01-E020 from the US Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Oct 2000. Web.
Get the Ovia Pregnancy app
Get our app at the Apple App Store Get our app at the Apple App Store Get our app at the Google Play Store Get our app at the Google Play Store