Preterm Labor Symptoms, Know the Signs of Premature Labor

If you experience any of these signs and symptoms of premature labor or other unusual changes, call your doctor right away:

  • Contractions every 12 minutes or more often
  • Change in vaginal discharge
  • Pelvic pressure
  • Backache
  • Cramps
Pregnant woman feeling pain in the back
female doctor with documents in her hand

Steps to Take When You Know Your Risk for Preterm Labor and Delivery

The PreTRM Test provides key information about your pregnancy’s risk of preterm delivery. After you receive the results of your test, there are several key steps you can take if you are at high risk:

  • Speak with your doctor to personalize your pregnancy care  in an effort to mitigate your risk
  • Plan for a possible premature delivery
  • Know the signs and symptoms of premature labor

Speak With Your Doctor for Information about your pregnancy health

Your physician can use the results of your PreTRM Test, along with other information from your prenatal visits and your medical history, to create a personalized plan for your medical care.

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Haven’t had the PreTRM test yet? Talk to your doctor to see if it may be right for you

Plan for Possible Preterm Labor and Delivery

If you learn that your pregnancy is at higher risk of preterm birth, there are steps that you can take to plan for this possibility:

  • Pay attention to unusual changes in your body so you can alert your doctor of any signs of premature labor
  • Research and select a hospital with a reputable neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)
  • Work with your employer to plan for a possible early maternity leave due to premature birth
  • Arrange for the care of your other children if needed
  • Change travel plans for the weeks before your due date as needed

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Haven’t had the PreTRM test yet? Talk to your doctor to see if it may be right for you

Know the Signs and Symptoms of Premature Labor

Prompt access to medical care is very important in the case of premature labor. You should be familiar with the signs and symptoms of premature labor, or if you experience any unusual changes to your body, call your doctor immediately if you experience any of them:

  • Contractions every 12 minutes or more often. These feel like your abdomen is tightening or bunching up like a fist. While it is normal to experience some occasional contractions, you need to see your doctor if you have more than five in an hour.
  • Change in vaginal discharge. Your vagina leaks blood, watery mucus, or other fluid.
  • Pelvic pressure. This is a feeling that your baby is pushing down on your lower belly or hips. 
  • Backache. The pain may be constant and dull in your low back, or it may come and go in waves and move toward the front of your abdomen. It may feel different from other back pain you may have experienced during pregnancy.
  • Cramps. They may feel like menstrual cramps, and they may occur with or without diarrhea.

While some of these symptoms may come with false labor, it is always best to be evaluated by your physician. When in doubt, call your doctor.

Learn More

Haven’t had the PreTRM test yet? Talk to your doctor to see if it may be right for you

Additional FAQs about Premature Labor

Preterm Birth

Learn more about preterm birth.

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  1. Matthew K. Hoffman, Carrie Kitto, Zugui Zhang, et al. Neonatal outcomes after proteomic biomarker-guided intervention: the AVERT PRETERM TRIAL. medRxiv 2023.09.13.23295503; doi: