Pre-Term Labor

Even if a woman does everything "right" during pregnancy, she can still have a premature baby. Here are the known risk factors:

* Carrying more than one baby (twins, triplets, etc.)
* Having a previous preterm birth
* Problems with the uterus or cervix
* Chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and clotting disorders
* Infections during pregnancy, such as STDs, bacterial vaginosis and hepatitis
* Cigarette smoking, alcohol use or illicit drug use during pregnancy

There are ways to help low your risk for a preterm birth, however know that it can happen to anyone and many women who experience a premature birth have no known risk factors. Ensuring your own good health, however, can aid in lowering your risk for a premature baby.

* Quit smoking
* Avoid alcohol and drugs
* Meet with your gynecologist before you become pregnant for a thorough medical exam.
* Get prenatal care as soon as you think you may be pregnant and throughout your pregnancy.
* Discuss concerns during pregnancy with your gynecologist and seek medical attention for any warning signs or symptoms of preterm labor.

Some of the signs of preterm labor may include one or more of the following symptoms and must occur before your 37th week of pregnancy.

Contractions (your abdomen tigthens 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 Abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea

If you think you have any of these symptoms be sure to contact your OB/GYNt as soon as possible.