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Symptoms of Preterm Labor and Delivery
Symptoms of preterm labor can occur anytime before your 37th week of pregnancy. Preterm labor contractions may or may not feel different from normal labor contractions. In many cases, it is hard to tell the difference between preterm contractions and normal aches or baby movements. Talk with your doctor about the signs of preterm labor.
The signs and symptoms of preterm labor include:
- Contractions that do not stop, regardless of how far apart they are
- Watery discharge from your vagina
- Light vaginal spotting or bleeding
- Pressure on your pelvis that feels as if your baby is pushing down
- Low, dull backache
- Menstrual-like cramps that come and go
- Abdominal cramps that may occur with diarrhea
Call your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms or any unusual sensations.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Committee on Practice Bulletins—Obstetrics. ACOG practice bulletin no. 127: Management of preterm labor. Obstet Gynecol. 2012;119(6):1308-1317.
Preterm labor. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Preterm-Premature-Labor-and-Birth. Updated November 2016. Accessed March 7, 2018.
Preterm labor and birth: overview. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development website. Available at: https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/preterm/Pages/default.aspx. Updated January 31, 2017. Accessed March 8, 2018.
Preterm (premature) labor and birth. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq087.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20130423T0923201528. Updated November 2016. Accessed March 8, 2018.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG
- Review Date: 03/2018
- Update Date: 03/15/2015