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Counties Manukau Health Birthing and Assessment (B & A)

Public Service, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Maternity, Maternity/Birthing Facilities

Premature Labour and Birth

Sometimes you will go into labour before baby is due. If this is before 37 weeks it is called 'premature'. How we manage this depends on how many weeks into your pregnancy you are.

The earlier it is, the more we will need to do to try and make sure baby is as well as possible at birth.

We may want to:

  • delay labour - this is done by giving you tablets which stop the muscle of the uterus contracting
  • give steroids - these injections are given to you and pass through to baby making his/her lungs more able to cope with breathing in air
  • take swabs - one of these can help us know if you will go into full labour, the others test for infection. If infection is found we will give you antibiotics to treat it
  • speculum - a speculum is a plastic instrument to let the midwife of doctor look at the cervix (entrance to uterus which opens in labour)
  • give magnesium sulphate - this is a drip which has been used recently as it seems to protect the premature baby's brain pamphlet magnesium sulphate for neuro protection
  • check with the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to make sure there is a cot for your baby - sometimes we need to send you to another hospital if our unit is full
  • take you to visit the Neonatal Unit if possible.

We would normally try to delay labour with medication in order to give you the two steroid injections needed to help baby or to allow us to transfer you to a hospital where there is a neonatal intensive care cot for your premature baby. It is often safer and easier to transport baby inside of you than after he/she arrives.

Pamphlet - Premature Labour

This page was last updated at 3:14PM on January 20, 2022.