Premature birth: what are the signs of labor?

Childbirth is a moment long awaited by the mother. It takes a few months to get to know the baby’s face and this process is full of discoveries and new experiences. In general, it is said that the normal and adequate gestation time should be 40 weeks, that is, 9 months.

Although it is not so exact, and it can vary a little more or less, this time is very important for the child to be born healthy. Thus, between 38 and 42 weeks, pregnancy is still within the healthy time.

Premature birth, that is, being born before 38 weeks, can cause the baby to need some special care, in addition to posing risks to his health and development.


When is premature birth considered?

Premature birth occurs when the baby is born before 37 weeks, according to the World Health Organization. The situation deserves attention, as the child has not yet completed all development, and may be more vulnerable.

In the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), labor that begins before 37 weeks is classified by code 60.0 – Preterm labor without delivery. But in this case, birth does not occur.

If the child is born prematurely, the code used is 60.1 – Preterm labor with preterm labor.

Read more: What are the symptoms of childbirth in the 37th week of pregnancy?

What are the causes of premature birth?

There are some factors that can be associated with premature birth and favor the baby’s early birth.

The mother may suffer from infections during pregnancy (such as urinary or respiratory), placental detachment, pre-eclampsia ( high blood pressure during pregnancy) or gestational diabetes .

In addition, behaviors and habits, such as smoking , can favor premature birth, mothers who have had a premature birth before, multiple gestations and congenital irregularities may be related.

What are the signs of premature birth?

With the final stretch of gestation, the uterus is preparing for the moment of delivery, even if there are still a few weeks to go. As the third trimester begins, many women begin to experience Braxton Hicks contractions , which are training for true contractions.

They should not cause fear or worry in the mother, as they are normal. But in cases of premature birth, contractions also occur, but in an intense and generally more painful way.

It is above all the frequency and intensity of these pains that indicate a premature birth. They are more intense and are repeated every 5 to 8 minutes. In addition, there may be:

  • Pains in the pelvis region;
  • Low back pain or back pressure;
  • Pains close to the groin or thighs;
  • Nausea, vomiting or dizziness;
  • Increased vaginal discharge (white discharge).

If there is presence of blood, an intense pink or brown discharge or watery liquid, along with the above symptoms, it is necessary to seek emergency assistance.

How are premature labor contractions?

Mothers may have had contractions in training since the beginning of the third trimester. Differentiating them from true contractions can be a determining factor in realizing the anticipation of childbirth.

In order to identify it correctly, it is important to observe the intensity and duration of the condition. In general, the woman should have uterine activity, that is, contraction, with a frequency of 5 to 8 minutes. They last at least 20 seconds and must last for at least 30 minutes.

What happens when labor is premature?

If labor starts prematurely, it is necessary that the mother be attended to immediately by the doctor or obstetrician, who will indicate measures to prevent or delay the birth.

In general, hospitalization is necessary for the mother to be properly monitored. Hospital care includes maintaining good hydration, which may be by serum, and rest.

Depending on the condition, medications that delay labor may be administered. However, only the doctor will be able to assess the needs, as some of the medications can have side effects or have contraindications.

Among the substances that can be administered to women are:

  • Magnesium sulphate : can be used when pregnancy is less than 32 weeks and helps to interrupt labor;
  • Calcium channel blockers: also used in the treatment of hypertension, they can be administered in order to delay premature birth;
  • Prostalgin inhibitors: the drug may temporarily reduce the amount of amniotic fluid. However, use after 32 weeks of gestation may pose risks to pregnancy.

How to prevent premature birth?

Often, premature birth is related to the woman’s genetic or pathological factors. But maintaining healthy habits and care, in addition to properly prenatal care, can reduce risks especially for mothers who are predisposed.

Therefore, in addition to providing adequate medical follow-up and following the guidelines, women should pay attention to:


Keeping the body well hydrated, with the consumption of water and natural juices is very important to reduce the risk of premature birth.

Healthy diet

Having a good diet is essential at all stages of life. Women who eat properly, eating nutritious and natural foods, contribute to the strengthening of their own health and that of the baby as well.

Reducing the consumption of industrialized products and doing nutritional monitoring is a good way to favor adequate weight gain – remembering that excess or low weight may be factors that favor the premature birth of the baby.

Strengthening immunity

Maintaining adequate hygiene and care habits with food helps immunity and is important to avoid or reduce the risk of infections.

Avoiding close proximity to sick people, hospitals or places that favor contamination by viruses and bacteria is also ideal. This is because infections can favor the occurrence of premature births.

It is worth remembering that various infections (respiratory, urinary, for example) are associated with the risk of an early birth.

Stress reduction

Keeping calm, cherishing tranquility and maintaining a balanced mental health are good ways to reduce risks in pregnancy. In addition, reducing stress is a good way to make the most of these months, enjoying the changes that occur in the body and strengthening ties with the child.

Physical activities

Doing physical activities is a good way to take care of your health in general. Doing exercises guided by the doctor is a good way to keep the body healthy and strengthened, especially during these months of intense changes.

Talking to the obstetrician and finding out the best types of activities is the best way to plan an active routine.


Premature birth occurs when, for some reason, the child’s birth is before 37 weeks of gestation.

Some precautions can be taken to avoid or reduce the risks of early labor, but it is important to maintain medical monitoring throughout pregnancy. If there are doubts or symptoms appear, it is always necessary to seek medical advice!