An Overview of Premature Labor

Although a normal pregnancy should last 40 weeks, some women will go into labor earlier than that.  If a women experiences labor prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy, she is in premature labor, also known as preterm labor.  Premature labor is very common among women who are carrying multiples, who have gone into early labor with prior pregnancies, or who experience medical risk factors such as a low birth weight, uterine or cervical abnormalities, an infection or a high fever.  Lifestyle risk factors leading to preterm labor might include a woman who smokes, drinks, uses drugs or receives little or no prenatal care during her pregnancy.  Since the longer the baby is in the womb, the better the chance he or she will be healthy, doctors try their best to avoid premature delivery by administering medications either orally or via an IV, or by putting the expectant mom on bed rest until she can  no longer avoid delivery.

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