Pregnancy App Article: "Premature birth"

Week 36
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Premature birth
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If you go into labour before 37 weeks, you'll be considered to be in premature labour. Around 10% of pregnancies in the UK fall into this category.

There are certain risk factors to be aware of - but sometimes there's simply no explanation for why labour begins prematurely.

You're more at risk of premature birth if you:
  • Are pregnant with more than one baby
  • Are under 17 or over 35
  • Had less than nine months between giving birth and getting pregnant again
  • Have already had a baby who was premature 
  • Have an unusually shaped cervix or womb
These medical factors can also mean a higher risk of a premature birth
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Diabetes
  • An infection, such as a bladder, urinary tract or kidney infection
  • Sexually transmitted infection
  • Previous cone biopsy of cervix
  • Late miscarriage during previous pregnancies
  • Severely underweight at start of pregnancy
  • Waters breaking early
  • Placenta partially or completely separating from womb (placental abruption)
  • Your baby has a medical condition that means it's safer for them to be born early
Warning signs to look out for:
  • Period-like cramps
  • Contractions
  • Watery fluid from vagina
  • Vaginal discharge that is different or more than usual
  • Stomach cramps, with or without diarrhoea
  • Pressure in your pelvis
If you're not sure whether or not you're in labour, then call your doctor or midwife. It could be a false alarm, it could be premature labour - either way, you and your baby need to be checked.
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I have the dubious distinction of a very short cervix and was very lucky to have this picked up at the 23-week scan and monitored thereafter. I had my daughter at 27+5.
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I had a premature birth at about 23/24 weeks after lifting a very heavy object (about 15-20kg). Labour started immediately and couldn't be stopped.
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Absolutely no idea why both my sons' births happened early. I don't smoke, didn't drink, ate well, took pregnancy vitamins and had no more stress than anyone else.
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My son arrived at 35.5 weeks following spontaneous rupture of membranes. He was fine apart from jaundice and being slow to establish breastfeeding.
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The neonatal ward is really daunting at first but you will get used to it. Talk to the nurses, ask questions but remember that this is YOUR baby and you are entitled to be there as much as you want.
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Premature babies
If your baby is born early, they may need to stay in hospital, for anything from days to months. The length of stay will depend on how premature they are and any health problems they may have. 

Special hospital care provides babies with the essential things they need to survive and thrive: warmth, fluids, nutrients and monitoring. 

Medical staff will be concentrating on helping your baby to breathe, as his or her lungs aren't yet fully developed.

It can be worrying time, as in addition to the usual hormonal upheaval and tiredness most women experience after giving birth, you're plunged into intense anxieties about your baby's health and future. Try to remember that it's not for ever and that lots of other families have gone through the same thing and come out the other side with babies who are fine.
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