Preterm Labour

Preterm Labour is when you go into labour before the 37th week of the pregnancy – 3 or more weeks before your due date. This will result in your baby being premature.

Early recognition of the possibility that you are in labour is important in improving the baby’s outcome. Research shows that the most accurate diagnosis of preterm labour can come from the pregnant woman herself- if you suspect you are in preterm labour, you probably are. It is important that you get help as early as possible.

The best place for your baby to be born if he/she is premature is in a major hospital with a specialist neonatal intensive care unit able to handle any problems he might have. The best way to transport your baby to that hospital is in utero. Sometimes this isn’t possible but every effort will be made to transfer you before the baby is delivered.

IF YOU THINK YOU ARE IN PRETERM LABOUR, IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU SEEK MEDICAL ASSISTANCE IMMEDIATELY. There are ways doctors will try and delay a preterm labour but it needs to be done as quickly as possible.

Preterm labour has all the signs of full-term labour.

These signs include:

Regular contractions. Not all labour contractions are painful especially in the early stages but if they are happening regularly you need to seek medical advice.

Bleeding – any bleeding at any time during your pregnancy should be reported to your doctor as soon as possible.

Membranes rupturing – This is the third main sign of preterm birth when the bag of waters that surround your baby breaks. (PROM) When the membranes rupture it can show as anything from a slow trickle to a large gush of water. If this happens you need to seek Medical assistance immediately.
Read Paige’s story about Jody’s experience with Preterm Labour


The primary aim of PIPA is to provide practical and emotional support to the parents and families of premature infants. However we do not offer professional advice. We are parents of preterm baby’s and not medical staff. We do offer understanding, support, encouragement and friendship.