Preventing preterm labor

October 16, 2010 at 12:58 am

2014-10-17 11.25.53 am

Before I get into my research on preterm labor, I want to make it clear that preterm labor should be taken very seriously.  I am not a medical professional, so none of the contents of this blogpost should be considered medical advice. If you suddenly begin to experience possible preterm labor symptoms, the March of Dimes urges:

Call your health care provider or go to the hospital right away if you think you are having preterm labor. The signs of preterm labor include:

  • Contractions (your abdomen tightens like a fist) every 10 minutes or more often
  • Change in vaginal discharge (leaking fluid or bleeding from your vagina)
  • Pelvic pressure—the feeling that your baby is pushing down
  • Low, dull backache
  • Cramps that feel like your period
  • Abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea

(Source: Preterm Labor and Birth: A Serious Pregnancy Complication)

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A couple of weeks ago, I wrote “The Bed Rest Myth” and promised that a post about preventing preterm labor was in the works.  Here is that promised post.  To re-cap, I got thinking about preterm labor a little over a month ago. A family member was put on bed rest (at 7 months pregnant) for some worrisome cramping and contracting she was experiencing. Her situation catapulted preterm labor onto my radar screen with big flashing red lights. Since then I’ve spent considerable time digging through the available research, hoping to find some clues that might be helpful to women facing preterm labor (and those hoping to prevent it).

The Bed Rest Myth

September 28, 2010 at 10:53 pm

“Bed rest does not appear to improve the rate of preterm birth and should not be routinely recommended.” -American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

“The majority of women who are on bed rest don’t need to be, and many experience physical, emotional, and financial complications that are completely unnecessary.” -Mark Taslimi, M.D., professor of maternal-fetal medicine at Stanford University

“Just because something is widely believed doesn’t make it true. Scientifically, bed rest is simply not a valid treatment.” -John Thorp, M.D., a maternal-fetal specialist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill

Disclaimer: Nothing contained in this post should be considered medical advice. If you have concerns or questions, please consult with your healthcare provider.

Several weeks ago, someone I care about was put on bed rest (at seven months pregnant) for some worrisome cramping she had been and continues to be experiencing.  Her situation catapulted preterm labor and bed rest onto my radar screen with big flashing red lights.  I had never really given preterm labor or bed rest much thought because I had never experienced them nor had anyone close to me.  As I started digging into the scientific literature on these subjects, I was totally blown away by what I discovered.  I’ve been researching pregnancy and childbirth topics for over seven years, but, yet again, I’m asking myself, “How did I not know this before?”

Before I dive into those stunning facts, let me first set the scene with the not-so-pretty reality of the bed rest experience.

Bed Rest Challenges

“Rest cure” has been recommended to women as a means of treating a wide variety of physical and emotional ailments since the 1800’s.   Almost a million American women are prescribed bed rest during their pregnancies every year for all types of pregnancy complications. 

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