If you think you
have symptoms of preterm labor, call your doctor or certified nurse-midwife. He
or she can check to see if your water has broken, if you have an infection, or
if your cervix is starting to dilate.
You may also have urine and blood tests
to check for problems that can cause preterm labor.
Checking the baby's
heartbeat and doing an
ultrasound can give your doctor or midwife a good
picture of how your baby is doing. Amniotic fluid can be tested for signs that
your baby's lungs have grown enough for delivery.
You may have a
painless swab test for a protein in the vagina called fetal fibronectin. If the
test doesn't find the protein, then you are unlikely to deliver soon. But the
test can't tell for certain if you are about to have a preterm birth.
If you are in preterm labor,
your doctor or certified nurse-midwife must compare the risks of early delivery
with the risks of waiting to deliver. Depending on your situation, your
doctor or midwife may:
Try to delay the birth with medicine. This may or may not
Use antibiotics to treat or prevent infection. If your
amniotic sac has broken early, you have a high risk of infection and must be
Give you steroid medicine to help prepare your baby's lungs for
Treat any other medical problems causing trouble
Allow the labor to go on because delivery is safer
for the mother and baby than letting the pregnancy go on.