Symptoms and causes

What is it?

A normal pregnancy term is 40 weeks from the first day of the last menstruation.

Sometimes, however, birth takes place earlier. When the birth takes place before 37 weeks, it is called a premature birth. When it takes place before 32 weeks, it is called a serious premature birth.

Cause

The cause of premature birth cannot always be clearly identified. Causes may include premature breaking of the waters, overdistention of the uterus (as in the case of twin pregnancy), medically assisted reproduction, lifestyle...

Possible symptoms

Braxton hicks often occur during the second half of the pregnancy. However, if they are regular and painful and do not improve after resting, they may be premature contractions.

Diagnosis and treatment

Diagnosis

If you suspect an threatening preterm birth, it is best to have it checked by a gynaecologist. You should contact the hospital immediately or drop by the Delivery Unit. The same goes if you experience bleeding or abnormal discharge during pregnancy.

Upon arrival at the hospital, any contractions will be detected with a cardiotocography (CTG or monitor). This device records any contractions as well as your baby's heartbeat. Moreover, an ultrasound will be made to check the length of the cervix and whether there are any signs of infection.

Treatment

If there are real premature contractions, admission may be necessary. During the admission, you will be treated with contraction inhibitors and medication will be administered to prepare the baby's lungs for premature birth. Babies born prematurely usually end up in neonatology.

Treatment centres and specialisations

Pregnancy and birth

Latest publication date: 21/01/2021