Preterm labor is classified as any labor which occurs before 37 weeks of pregnancy. This is too early because babies born before they are full term face more complications and difficulties than babies born at 37 weeks or later.

Call your physician right away if you have any of the warning signs of preterm labor:

  • Contractions (you may feel your abdomen become hard like your fist)
  • Change in vaginal discharge (leaking fluid or bleeding from your vagina)
  • Pelvic pressure -- feeling that the baby is pushing down
  • Low, dull backache that is different from the usual backache of pregnancy
  • Cramps that feel like menstrual cramps
  • Abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea

Your Physician May Suggest You:

  • Go to the hospital, or visit the office right away
  • Stop the activity you were doing when the symptoms began, rest, preferably on your left side for one hour
  • Drink two to three glasses of water (not coffee or soda)
  • If symptoms persist, call your physician back

How to Help Take Care of Yourself and Your Baby:

  • Get regular prenatal checkups
  • Try to avoid stress -- ask your family and friends for help
  • Don't drink alcohol, smoke or take street drugs
  • If you feel pain or burning when you urinate, call your healthcare provider