When a woman is pregnant in Washington, everyone hopes she will carry the baby for the full 40 weeks of pregnancy. Sometimes, though, situations occur when a baby is born premature or too early. It is well-known in the medical community that preterm labor is to be avoided at all costs because babies are not equipped to live in the outside world during the earlier weeks of pregnancy.
According to the March of Dimes, any birth before 37 weeks is considered a preterm delivery. It increases the chances of birth injuries and health problems. Typically, the situation is preceded by specific symptoms. A pregnant woman who is starting labor early may have contractions, aches in the back and belly, pressure in the pelvis and changes in vaginal discharge. Any woman experiencing signs of labor should seek immediate medical help.
It is not known exactly what causes preterm labor in every case, but there are some risk factors and risky behaviors that can lead to it. Parenting reports women who have had a preterm birth before have an increased risk of it happening again. Those who have chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, are also at an elevated risk. Pregnant women who suffer an infection in the pelvic area or have a sexually transmitted disease may also be more at risk. Lifestyle choices also affect labor and delivery. Smoking, not getting prenatal care, exposure to chemicals, being under stress and being under 17 or over 35 years of age all contribute to the increased chance of an early labor.