Signs and Symptoms of Preterm Labor

Preterm labor is a tense situation, since the baby's life may be in danger. In this article, discover the signs and symptoms that warn of preterm labor so you can make sure to seek help as soon as possible.
Signs and Symptoms of Preterm Labor

Last update: 25 July, 2022

Knowing how to identify the signs and symptoms of preterm labor is very important. This is because low birth weight can be very dangerous for your baby’s health.

In this article, you’ll discover the signs and symptoms you should look out for that may be signaling preterm labor.

As pointed out by Mayo Clinic, preterm labor occurs before 37 weeks of pregnancy. However, babies born before 34 weeks have an increased risk of physical damage and 75% of these births end in death.

Risk Factors for Preterm Labor

A woman going into preterm labor.

Not all women are at risk of premature labor unless they have a fall that provokes it. Below, we’ll explain some of the circumstances where it’s necessary to pay attention to any signs or symptoms that may indicate preterm labor.
  • History of preterm birth. If someone in your family has already suffered premature labor, you need to pay more attention, as you’re more likely to suffer one as well.
  • Multiple pregnancies. Gestating twins may increase the risk of preterm delivery. In these cases, the pregnant woman must be closely monitored.
  • Below normal weight. When soon-to-be mothers undergo weight control, this is because a below-normal weight can lead to premature birth. This is why following your doctor’s instructions is essential.
  • Urinary tract infections. During pregnancy, you may have infections that require greater monitoring, since they can cause premature birth.

Many other factors have been associated with a greater risk of preterm labor. For example, if the pregnant woman smokes, if she has an altered volume of amniotic fluid, or if she has a history of hypertension.

This article may interest you: Eleven Habits You Should Avoid During Pregnancy

Signs and symptoms of preterm labor

Overall, there are some unmistakable signs that labor is about to begin. Therefore, given the onset of any of the symptoms we’re about to expose, you must go to the emergency room as soon as possible.

  • Amniotic fluid leakage. If the mother notices this, she should go see her doctor right away. This means that the amniotic sac broke, leading to the consequent loss of amniotic fluid.
  • Uterine contractions. Regular and frequent contractions, one every ten minutes, are a sign of labor.
  • Cramps in the womb. If the contractions are still mild, you may feel some pain in your womb that can be confused with a tummy ache, especially if accompanied by diarrhea.
  • Changes in vaginal discharge. A greater amount or thickness, including changes in color, is another sign it’s important to see your doctor.

If the woman is at risk of premature labor, these symptoms shouldn’t be overlooked. Even mild lower back pain or pressure on the genitals (as if the baby were pressing down) may indicate an imminent delivery.

Discover: Vaginal Tears During Childbirth

The Dangers of a Premature Delivery

A woman in labor.

The medical checkups pregnant women get help to detect the risk factors associated with preterm labor.

It’s extremely important to pay attention to these symptoms. This is because of the high mortality rate surrounding this type of delivery. Thus, going to the doctor at the first signs of alarm is essential to avoid this unfortunate outcome.

Also, some health problems may be prevented because the baby hasn’t fully developed yet. For this reason, mothers who are at risk of preterm labor should avoid smoking, get enough rest, and maintain a healthy weight. Every precaution must be taken.

We hope this article has allowed you to know a little more about the possible consequences of preterm labor. Also, if you run the risk of suffering from it, don’t overlook any of the symptoms we mentioned here.

A premature baby may suffer from many problems if they don’t receive prompt medical attention. Thus, if you feel mild back pain, pressure in your uterus, or discharge changes, see your doctor.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Laterra, C., Andina, E., & Di Marco, I. (2003). Guía de prácticas clínicas. Amenaza de parto prematuro. Revista del Hospital Materno Infantil Ramón Sardá22(1).
  • Ovalle, Alfredo, Kakarieka, Elena, Rencoret, Gustavo, Fuentes, Ariel, del Río, María José, Morong, Carla, & Benítez, Pablo. (2012). Factores asociados con el parto prematuro entre 22 y 34 semanas en un hospital público de Santiago. Revista médica de Chile140(1), 19-29.
  • Pohlmann, Flávia Conceição, Kerber, Nalú Pereira da Costa, Viana, Jackeline da Silva, Carvalho, Vanessa Franco de, Costa, Carolina Coutinho, & Souza, Catharine Silva de. (2016). Parto prematuro: enfoques presentes en la producción científica nacional e internacional. Enfermería Global15(42), 386-397. Recuperado en 31 de marzo de 2019, de

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.