Preterm labor

(Premature labor)

About Preterm labor

Preterm labor is labor that happens before 37 weeks gestation. Many women have contractions on and off during their third trimester, but true labor refers to contractions that lead to changes in and opening of your cervix.

Some causes of preterm labor include maternal anxiety or depression, fetal stress, infection, and bleeding or distention in the uterus. Preterm labor can, but does not always, lead to preterm birth. About 11 percent of births each year in the U.S. are preterm.

Some symptoms of labor include

  • Cramping
  • Contractions that are mild or come at irregular intervals
  • Aching in your lower back
  • Vaginal discharge with mucus and/or blood

Your doctor can diagnose preterm labor by hearing about your symptoms and doing a physical examination. Doctors manage suspected preterm labor in different ways depending on how much change they see in your cervix, along with any other symptoms or conditions you have. If you're in true labor, doctors can't stop it from happening, but they can give certain medications that will slow it down and other medications that lower your baby's risks if born preterm. If you have a history of preterm birth, your doctor will talk to you about medicines and procedures that can lower the risk of preterm birth in your next pregnancy.

  • Also known as
  • Premature labor
Symptoms of Preterm labor
  • Cramping
  • Contractions that are mild or come at irregular intervals
  • Aching in your lower back
  • See your depression symptoms get better ›

Top Medications for Preterm labor according to our users

Button Group. All currently active
  • All men

  • Brand (generic)% of users who said medication was worth it

All Medications for Preterm labor


  • Pain reliever > Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)

    • Indocin
      Prescription only

      Indocin (Indomethacin) works well for mild to moderate pain and swelling, but it shouldn't be used long-term since it has some serious side effects.

      Was it worth it?
      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
      • Extended release
      • Liquid
      • Suppository

Medication side effects for Preterm labor

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Tips, success stories, and coping strategies for Preterm labor

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