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Premature Labor

If You Need to Go to the Hospital

If your doctor or midwife thinks you're going into premature labor, you probably need to go to the hospital. Once you arrive, a doctor, midwife, or nurse will:

  • Ask about your medical history, including medicines you’ve been taking during pregnancy.
  • Check your pulse, blood pressure, and temperature.
  • Put a monitor on your belly to check your baby's heart rate and your contractions.
  • Swab for fetal fibronectin, which helps predict the risk of delivering early.
  • Check your cervix to see if it is opening.

If you are diagnosed with premature labor, you may need treatment, which may include:

  • IV fluids
  • Medicine to relax your uterus and stop labor
  • Medicine to speed up the development of your baby's lungs
  • Antibiotics
  • Being admitted to the hospital

If your labor has kept up and can’t be stopped, your doctor or midwife will get ready to deliver your baby.

If doctors say you’re not in premature labor, you can go home. Despite the popular belief, bed rest doesn't seem to help prevent preterm birth and has risks of its own.

What Happens if My Baby Is Born Early?

About one in 10 babies born in the U.S. are preemies. Most preemies do well as they get older and catch up to their full-term peers in time.

But these kids do have a higher risk of problems. Premature babies grow more slowly than babies born at full-term. They have a higher risk of certain long-term health problems, including autism, intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, lung problems, and vision and hearing loss.

The earlier a baby is born, the more likely he or she is to have problems. Babies born after 7 months usually need a short stay in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU.) Babies born earlier than that face much bigger risks. They will need specialized care in the NICU.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD, FACOG on August 04, 2014

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