Pre-term labor

Tuesday , 30, August 2011 Leave a comment

So – I’m 34 weeks pregnant!  I’m starting to feel concerned about labor, and looking at my unfinished nursery with mild concern.  34 weeks for me is a different sort of milestone in my second pregnancy.  When I hit 33 weeks in my first pregnancy, I was spending the weekend in the hospital, burning up (or at least, feeling like I was) on magnesium sulfate, getting steroid shots in the hip, getting a fetal fibronectin test, and in all ways trying to stop a pre-term delivery.  I’m happy to say that it worked.  I finished out the weekend 3 cm dilated and 90% effaced.  The contractions had stopped.  I got sent home on a procardia prescription and bedrest for the next 4 weeks.  Around 37 weeks, I got to resume my “normal” routine.  My daughter was born at 39 weeks, 4 days.  Full term.  Perfectly healthy.

There was no particular reason for my preterm labor that we ever came up with. I didn’t have any of the risk factors that you read about.  An OB I have seen more recently just said “Pre-term labor doesn’t have to have a reason.”  Which in my case seems to be true.  We knew it was a possibility of course – I was born at 32 weeks and my mother was born at close to 28 weeks.  In the early 60s.  I think it’s safe to say her very existence is somewhat miraculous.  But we don’t know WHY the early births, and since I am an only child (my mom was the 3rd child, and the only early delivery), I really wasn’t sure what to expect on my second pregnancy go-round.

So far, nothing!  Isn’t that great??

If you are pregnant, or have ever been pregnant you know how much information is out there, and how many things you need to be “on the lookout for” during pregnancy.  But let me encourage you to become familiar with the signs of preterm labor, because, as we learned – it doesn’t always have to have a reason.

Possible warning signs of preterm labor can include the following: (see also: March of Dimes website)

  • Contractions (your abdomen 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
  • Abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea

Keep in mind it may be one or two of these signs only.  My mother thought she had a side ache.   I had several contractions, some of which felt like menstrual cramps – but no other symptoms.   I honestly thought I might be dehydrated at first.  I went home from work, laid down, drank a bunch of water.  (It turns out this is a good reason to stay hydrated, because dehydration and urinary tract infections can cause discomforts like preterm labor. ) Later in the afternoon I called the doctor because if I got up and  moved around the contractions would come back.   When I laid down things seemed better.  I still ended up in the doctors office the next day, where we found out I was starting in dilate and I got sent to the hospital.  By the time we arrived there and got admitted, I was having contractions every 5 minutes of so.  That started the cascade of intervention mentioned above. We were lucky, and the labor stopped.   I walked around mostly effaced and 3 cm dilated until I went into labor the second time.

I was very well taken care of in the hospital, and by my doctors office. The result was a healthy baby.   We feel pretty lucky that our daughter was born at term.  Our health care team was awesome, we know we would have been taken care of even if she had arrived early.

If you have any of the above symptoms, call your doctor right away.  It’s better to be safe with these things!  Stay in tune with your body, take care of yourself and enjoy this primary task you have of- as my nurse in antepartum put it-  “growing human”

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