Signs and Symptoms of Preterm labor

Mamas on Bedrest: Do You Know The Signs and Symptoms of Preterm Labor?

November 10th, 2014

March of Dimes Promo ImageMarch of Dimes Promo ImageHello Mamas!

November is Prematurity Awareness Month. Spearheaded by the March of Dimes, perinatal organizations nationally and globally are sponsoring educational events and presentations to raise awareness of the issue of preterm labor and premature birth. As an industrialized nation, the United States fares poorly on the global scene when it comes to preterm births, earning a C grade on the global stage. This is one of  the worst grades amongst industrialized nations. According to the March of Dimes, there are 450,000 babies born too soon annually in the United States. That is 1 out of every 9 babies!

There is much being done to reduce the number of babies being born too soon. American obstetricians and hospitals have revised their protocols so that there are fewer preterm labor inductions and fewer unnecessary cesarean sections. However, the large number of infants born prior to 39 weeks persists.

African American women have the highest rates of preterm labor and premature births in the US, ranging anywhere from 2-4 times the rate of preterm labor and preamature birth in white women. Researchers and public health officials are implementing some very targeted perinatal health care programs to address the disparities in access to care, affordability of care and the quality of care provided, especially as it pertains to lower income women who are on government subsidized health care plans . Two non-government organizations with whom  Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond is partnered with are The Birthing Project USA and The National Perinatal Task Force. The Birthing Project pairs African American support volunteers “Sister Friends” with pregnant mamas to help them navigate the health care system, gain access to resources and to be a support and birth attendant if necessary. The success of this program comes from the fact that the less experienced mama has a direct resource to ask questions,  seek assistance and who is often (but not required to be) present when mama delivers her baby. The National Perinatal Task Force is a group of perinatal health care workers who are dedicated to improving birth outcomes in African American Women and babies by being a very visible presence in the African American Community and providing information, resource referrals and support to mamas in need. Both programs provide African American women culturally sensitive care and support that has translated to improved birth outcomes.

The important key to reducing the rates of preterm labor and premature births is education. If you ask a cross section of pregnant women what are the signs and symptoms of preterm labor, many don’t know. This alone may account for many premature births. A woman experiencing intermittent contractions that are not particularly strong, or if she has an above average pain threshold, she may not recognize that she is in preterm labor. Other non specific symptoms such as diarrhea or back pain may be misconstrued as gastrointestinal upset or simply a normal ache from pregnancy respectively. Since it is imperative to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of preterm labor and to seek medical attention immediately (as preterm labor immediately addressed can often be stopped!), here are the most common signs and symptoms of preterm labor. Please make a note of these symptoms and contact your health care provider IMMEDIATELY if you are or have recently experienced any of these symptoms.

  • Contractions (your belly tightens like a fist) every 10 minutes or more often
  • Change in vaginal discharge (leaking fluid or bleeding from your vagina)
  • Pelvic pressure—the feeling that your baby is pushing down
  • Low, dull backache
  • Cramps that feel like your period
  • Belly cramps with or without diarrhea

Again, the March of Dimes has educational events taking place all this month throughout the United States. Check the March of Dimes Website for state chapter information as well as the calendar of events in your area.

Have other questions? Schedule a Complimentary 30 Minute Bedrest Breakthrough Session to find the solution! Schedule yours today!