Loretta Shupe, an Ogden midwife discusses some of the reasons for preterm labor and actions to take which can help to manage and/or prevent it.
Preterm labor is defined as labor symptoms or spontaneous rupture of membranes after the pregnancy has advanced to beyond 24 weeks gestation. According to Anne Frye, the number one cause is malnutrition. The body is working to build the blood supply. If this is not accomplished, the body may attempt to end the pregnancy by inducing labor. Dehydration can also trigger the onset of uterine contractions (Frye, 2010).
Other causes may be abnormalities in the reproductive organs such as a short cervix. Emotional issues and traumatic events can trigger preterm labor. Proceedures such as an amniocentesis can cause an unwanted labor pattern which continues to delivery. A severe infection where the mother is very ill may cause spontaneous contractions before the baby is term. The body is highly connected to the pregnancy and if it senses that the mother's life is in danger, it will attempt to abort the fetus to save the mother.
What can help once preterm labor has started? Bed rest, hydration, and certain herbs can all help to reverse dilation and effacement of the cervix.
Having a diet rich in fluids, protein, healthy fats, and a generous assortment of vegetables all lend to a healthy pregnancy. A good diet is the best gift a mother can give her unborn child prenatally.
Remember, Your Baby, Your Body and Your Choice
(Frye, Holistic Midwifery: A Comprehensive Textbook for Midwives in Homebirth Practice, Vol. I, 2010) (Oxorn, Human Labor and Birth, 5th edition, (1986)