What are the signs of premature labor?

Preterm labor is labor that happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Signs and symptoms of preterm labor include:

  • Change in your vaginal discharge (watery, mucus or bloody) or more vaginal discharge than usual
  • Pressure in your pelvis or lower belly, like your baby is pushing down
  • Constant low, dull backache
  • Belly cramps with or without diarrhea
  • Regular or frequent contractions that make your belly tighten like a fist. The contractions may or may not be painful.
  • Your water breaks.

Call your healthcare provider or go to the hospital right away if you think you’re having preterm labor. Learn more at

It's important to know the warning signs of premature labor. Call your doctor if you have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • contractions (abdomen tightening like a fist every 10 minutes or more often)
  • vaginal bleeding or leaking fluid
  • pelvic pressure (like your baby is pushing down)
  • low, dull backache
  • cramps that feel like your period
  • abdominal cramps (with or without diarrhea)

You should be aware of signs of premature labor, and contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Vaginal bleeding (except spotting after a pelvic exam)
  • A gush or uncontrolled leaking of fluid from the vagina
  • Sharp, constant abdominal pain
  • Cramps combined with a low, dull backache that lasts more than one hour
Dr. Deborah Raines, MSN
Nursing Specialist

The signs of premature labor include:

  • Dull, rhythmic low back pain
  • Pelvic pressure
  • Intermittent abdominal cramping that resembles menstrual cramps
  • Regular uterine contractions with or without pain, occurring more than 4 time per hour
  • Change or increase in vaginal discharge
  • Urinary frequency
  • Diarrhea.

If any of these sign are experienced it is important to obtain prompt treatment to slow the progression of the premature labor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.