Signs and Symptoms of Preterm Labour

It's not always easy for a woman to tell if she is having preterm labour. Many signs of preterm labour can feel the same as some normal things that happen in the second half of pregnancy.

However, there are important signs to watch for, especially if they seem new or different.


Signs and symptoms

  • Bad cramps or stomach pains that don't go away.
  • Bleeding, trickle or gush of fluid from your vagina.
  • Lower back pain/pressure, or change in lower backache.
  • A feeling that the baby is pushing down.
  • Contractions, or change in the strength or number of them.
  • An increase in the amount of vaginal discharge.

Some women may just feel that "something is not right".


You may also need medical care if you have:

  • Fever, chills, dizziness, vomiting or a bad headache.
  • Blurry vision or spots before your eyes.
  • Sudden or severe swelling of your feet, hands or face.
  • A significant change in your baby's movement.

Labour Contractions

Preterm labour contractions feel different from the normal tightening that many women feel in the second half of their pregnancy. For example:

  • They may feel more regular.
  • They do not go away if you move around or lie down.
  • There may be other signs that happen with the contractions, such as fluid leaking from the vagina or pelvic pressure.

What you should do

If you have any signs of preterm labour, GO TO THE HOSPITAL RIGHT AWAY! You can call your own doctor or midwife once you get to the hospital.

If you cannot drive yourself, ask someone else to drive you. If you cannot get to the hospital right away, call the birthing unit of your hospital for advice.

Remember: it is important to get to the hospital early if you are in preterm labour. Immediate care can make a big difference to your baby's health.

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