Many people remember today as the two year anniversary of the terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I remember it as the day that I was told that I was having preterm labor and that Nick was at high risk for being born premature.
For the entire week I had been having bad cramps. It worried me some, but I was going to the doctor on Thursday, so I decided to wait until then to ask about it. At my appointment my doctor wasn’t really concerned over it. She said I was to see how the next day went and to call her in the afternoon and let her know. The next day was just as bad, so when I was done subbing for the day I called to say that I was still having bad cramps. After my doctor got the message she called me and said she wanted me to go to Triage to be monitored. I really didn’t think it was that bad, and I wanted to just put my feet up all weekend and see how it went, but she insisted that I needed to go.
Jason was at work, and I didn’t think I’d be at the hospital long, so mom went with me. Unfortunately the hospital was crazy busy. Our best guess was that the earthquake did something to send tons of women into labor. We waited for hours in the waiting room, and there were women waiting with us who were very obviously in active labor. There just weren’t enough rooms for everyone. Finally they called me back to a room and hooked me up to a monitor. Then, when they came to examine me, my world tilted. They found that I was already dilated to 3 and 60% effaced. They told me there was a good chance that Nick was going to come early. I was shocked by the news. I had only hit 32 weeks that day. I wasn’t ready for Nick’s arrival. I was supposed to be pregnant at least 5 more weeks! To be safe the doctors had me get the special steroid shot to help build up Nick’s lungs.
Information On Preterm Labor
Luckily things went well for me. Nick not only made it to full term, but he made it a few weeks longer than that. According to Baby Center 12 percent of babies born in the United States every year aren’t so lucky, and only one fourth of those are planned. Although going into preterm labor does not meant that you’re little one will be born premature. Roughly half of the women that go into preterm labor ending up making it to term (as I did). Preterm labor can be a very scary thought though since premature birth can cause complications for the baby, but there are many medical things they can do now to help the baby. I know that the doctors really weren’t concerned about Nick coming early. They wanted him to stay where he was, but they felt if he did come early it would be fine.
Often the exact cause of preterm labor isn’t known, but there are some that can be pinpointed.
- Infection – Such as genital tract and urinary infections. The bacteria from such infections can weaken the membrane around the amniotic sac causing it to burst.
- Placenta Complications – These are known as placenta previa or placental abruption. Placental previa is when the placenta is very low and cause problems with the cervix. Problems with this can be avoided if it is found early on in the pregnancy. Placental abruption is when the placenta separates too early from the uterus robbing the baby of oxygen and nutrients.
- Large Uterus – This is often the case with multiples.
- Cervix/Uterus Abnormalities – These can cause the cervix to dilate and efface without contractions.
- Surgery – If the mother had some type of stomach surgery (such as the removal of the gallbladder or a cyst) during her pregnancy.
There are also multiple different factors that could suggest that a woman will go into preterm labor. The three biggest ones are:
- If she had a premature birth in the past
- If she is pregnant with multiples
- If she has had problems with her uterus or cervix now or in the past
Many of the causes of preterm labor are medical, and there isn’t much that the mother can do to stop or prevent them. That being said it is always important to take care of your body during pregnancy. Get medical care right from the start, eat well, and get plenty of rest. Also do your best to stop any unhealthy habits such as smoking, and make sure to keep your stress levels down. Doing these things will help give your baby the best chance to make it to full term as possible.
Did you have preterm labor problems? How did it turn out for you?