Premature Birth: Signs and treatment of pre-term labour


All women should be aware of the signs of pre-term labour. Even if you are not recognised as having a high risk pregnancy, you are still at risk, as many of the causes of pre-term birth are still unknown. Signs and symptoms of pre-term labour can include, but are not limited to, the following. If you experience any of these symptoms, or feel that something is “not right”, seek medical advice.

Signs and Symptoms


Contractions that are painful or regular may be a sign of pre-term labour.

Ruptured Membranes

This could mean a gush of fluid or may just be a trickle of watery fluid. This could indicate that your water has broken.


Menstrual-like cramps could indicate labour.

Back Pain

Pain in the lower back


A feeling of the baby pushing down, pelvic pressure.

Vaginal Discharge

Leaking fluid, blood or a “show” of mucus from the vagina may indicate pre-term labour.

Treatment of Pre-term labour

If preterm labour is determined, there are a number of treatments that can be used to stop or delay the labour. These include bed rest, hydration and administration of Turbutaline or Magnesium Sulfate.

If it appears that birth is imminent and the baby is between 24 and 34 weeks gestation, a corticosteroid may be given to the mother 24 hours before birth in an attempt to increase the baby’s lung and brain development.

Although bed rest, fluids and labour-inhibiting medications including steroids may be prescribed, these attempts often merely offer a short delay in the delivery to allow physicians to speed the development of the baby’s lungs and, if necessary, transfer the mother to a hospital that is better equipped for premature babies, such as one with a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).


  1. […] You should also ensure you have a car seat fitted for your little one’s journey home as well as nappies and baby clothes so your tot is comfortable and warm. It is a great idea to do a labour test run, where you get everything together and make a trip to the hospital. Many women are unsure about when labour actually starts, there are a couple of warning signs that signal the imminent onset of labour, but these signs can differ between women. Check out these signs and indicators in the signs of labour page so you are aware of what to look for. You should also understand that there are some different indicators for a premature birth, all these signs and symptoms are covered in Premature Birth: Signs and treatment of pre-term labour. […]

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