Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Preterm Labor: Trust Your Instincts

By candrews/flickr available thru CC BY-NC-ND 2.0Yesterday I was talking with a friend of mine about her pregnancy, and we got on the topic of mine, and how my doctor missed my Preterm Labor (PTL) symptoms.  Had she caught them, I may have stayed pregnant longer than 24 weeks.

I’ll give her this:  I had a subchorionic bleed my first trimester, and I was in her office very frequently because of the heavy bleeding associated with that condition.  However, the bleed stopped once I hit my 2nd trimester.  I started bleeding again a couple of weeks into the 2nd trimester, but this time I had very strong back pain and what I thought were Braxton Hicks contractions (note:  I have never been pregnant before, and as everyone’s motto seems to be “Every pregnancy is different,” I had no idea what was normal and what wasn’t).  I went to the Dr. to get checked out, and once I got to the office I went in for an ultrasound.  The technician had a hard time even seeing Jonathan’s head because it was so far down, hidden behind some bone down there.  I asked, “Are babies always like that?” because I thought they should be swimming around and whatnot.  She said they sometimes are, and I went to see the doctor.

She saw the US pics and recommended that I go home, get off my feet and drink plenty of water.  I told her I was concerned about the lower back pain and she said to get a heating pad because it was probably just the common ligament pain associated with getting further along in pregnancy.  Like I said earlier, I had no idea something was wrong, but in my gut I had a feeling that something wasn’t quite right.  I asked the nurse if she thought my pain was normal, and she told me she couldn’t say anything without the Dr.’s ok.

I went home, did as I was told, and I was back to normal the next day.  However, several days later the symptoms were back.  I laid down and did what I did the last time, except for curiosity’s sake I started to keep track of my contractions (I did know contractions would be regular and close if it was real labor).  When I saw they were 5-7 minutes apart, I thought I should call the doctor.   This time it was a weekend and I had to call the OB/GYN who was on call at the hospital.  He told me to come to the hospital immediately.  VERY long story made drastically short – I delivered my baby a week later.  I was only 24 weeks and 3 days along.

My doctor missed my PTL symptoms because I had a troublesome pregnancy from the beginning.  My instincts told me just drinking water and putting my feet up wasn’t going to cut it.  Trust your gut!

For more info on preterm labor visit www.marchofdimes.org.


  1. I was just talking about this same topic yesterday. A close friend of mine called me for encouragement and support, she was just told at 29wks she has an incompetent cervix and may deliver early. I talked to her a lot about my experiences but mainly told her that while every pregnancy is different to really listen to her body and if she feels something is right to just get it checked out. Medical professionals only see it from their side and as the pregnant mother we have a different insight that is very valuable, that instinct started the even closer observations with my last pregnancy and led me to the hospital at a critical point for each of my preemies.

  2. Very true – I am quite sure that if I had not insisted I come in because I was sure I had a bladder infection when I had to pee every time I stood up – at 23 weeks – that they would not have caught it in time despite that I was a high risk pregnancy. The nurse on the phone tried to tell me that was normal in pregnancy – but its not at that stage! I was effaced and starting to dilate and they could see the baby’s head – after a few days in the hospital, stitched up cervix and bedrest, I made it until 31 weeks. But if I’d listened to them, I never would have….

  3. My pregnancy was iffy from day one, but we didn’t think we’d have a preemie, but when I went in for my 29 week appointment, something just told me to have my Dr check me, I’d had a little, very little, minor cramping and pain and I just thought she may want to check, and when she did, I was 1.5 centimeters dilated…My Dr stressed the importance of making it to 33 weeks. On a Thur I reached 33 weeks, the next day, my water broke. He only spent a month in the NICU and will be one yr old next week.

  4. With my 4th pregnancy, I started having a ‘feeling’ I was going to have him early around 24-25 weeks. My OB assured me I had no risk factors for PTL, and that a lot of the pressure I felt was normal. I wasn’t having any other symptoms of PT…L other than that, and at 34 weeks, my water broke in the middle of the night. My son was born healthy and needed very little intervention, and stayed in the special care nursery for 34 days(he had apnea). I wish I would have listened to my gut instinct more and been more proactive. I’m currently 28 weeks pregnant and doing everything I can to keep this little one cooking until he’s full term.

  5. It helps to have a OB/GYN that will listen to you. And when you tell her you lost your plug she doesn’t blow you off and tell you its a yeast infection. On the other hand I like the Holy Crap look she gave me when I told her my 26 wkr stuck his foot out. She checked, and it was out. I bet she listens to her patients more now.

  6. After going into spontaneous PTL with my first two pregnancies (21 weeks and 27 weeks) I asked my MFM doctor with my third pregnancy if he thought I should go on bedrest around 21 weeks. He said no, that there was no need until some signs of PTL showed up, but I insisted that I needed to go on bedrest and I prescribed it for myself. I went on bedrest at 20 weeks (started having some cramping at 18 weeks) and I stayed on strict bedrest until 37 weeks (all the while my MFM saying it wasn’t necessary). My third baby was born at 40w2d!! I’m glad I took matters into my own hands.

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