Preterm Labor - When To Call a Doctor
can be hard to recognize. Get the earliest possible medical care by calling your doctor or your nurse-midwife about signs of preterm labor.
Anytime during your pregnancy
Call your doctor or
your nurse-midwife if:
- Your water breaks.
- You have bleeding or spotting from your vagina.
- You have painful or frequent urination or your urine is cloudy,
foul-smelling, or bloody.
Between 20 and 37 weeks of your pregnancy
your doctor, your nurse-midwife, or the labor and delivery unit of your local
- You have had regular contractions for an hour. This means about
8 or more within 1 hour, even after you have
had a glass of water and are resting.
- You have unexplained low back pain or pelvic pressure.
- You have symptoms of infection. For example:
- Your belly hurts when you press on it.
- You have a fever that you can't explain.
- You feel unusually tired.
- You have intestinal cramps.
- The baby has stopped moving or is moving much less than normal.
Use kick counting to
check your baby's activity.
If you are having painless or mild contractions
that are irregular or more than 15 minutes apart:
- Stop what you are doing.
- Empty your bladder.
- Drink 2 or 3 glasses of water or juice (having too little body fluid
can cause contractions).
- Lie down on your left side for at least an hour, and keep track
of how often you have contractions.
If your contractions stop, they were probably
Braxton Hicks contractions. These are harmless and
normal. Braxton Hicks contractions are often irregularly timed and
uncomfortable rather than painful.
Call your doctor or nurse-midwife if you start to have regular contractions.
Who to see
If you are in preterm labor, you may be seen
continue to see your
certified nurse-midwife or
certified professional midwife, who will consult with
one of the doctors listed above.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.