Preterm labor is when a pregnant woman goes into labor before her due date. When significantly before the due date, this phenomenon can cause serious health problems for both mother and baby.

The exact causes of preterm labor are unclear. Some studies suggest that stress or anxiety during pregnancy may increase the risk of preterm labor. Other research suggests that certain infections or other medical conditions may also increase the risk.

Several things can trigger preterm labor. These include infection, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, alcohol consumption, caffeine intake, obesity, and stress. Under the care of a board-certified and capable OB/GYN like Dr. Alex Tepper, you’ll know your risks for preterm labor and how to mitigate them to help keep you and your baby safe and healthy.

Risk Factors of Preterm Labor

Women who have had at least one previous child with low birth weight (less than 1,500 grams) are more likely to undergo premature labor. Women who don’t get enough vitamins and nutrients in their pregnancy may also be more prone to this problem. In addition, pregnant women who smoke, drink alcohol, don’t practice good prenatal care, or are obese may all have an increased chance of going into early labor.

Preterm Labor Symptoms

Preterm labor is difficult to diagnose because there aren’t usually any apparent symptoms until the contractions begin. But some signs make it easier for doctors to spot when labor might start:

Not all contractions are true labor contractions. False contractions (also called Braxton-Hicks contractions) can occur irregularly during pregnancy, but aren’t a sign that you’re about to deliver. These muscle spasms occur more often after physical activity and are usually only about 30 seconds, compared to labor contractions that usually last around a minute. They’re common throughout pregnancy but appear more often in the last month.

Increased vaginal bleeding is another common symptom of preterm labor. This can lead to abdominal pain because of increased uterine activity. It’s also possible to notice redness and irritation in your cervix.

When to Visit Your Doctor

It is essential to contact your doctor as soon as you know you’re having contractions. If you are experiencing regular contractions, call us right away. Our team can perform a pelvic exam, listen to your baby’s heartbeat, and compare your vitals and other symptoms to the expected pregnancy timeline.

Your doctor will also ask questions about your current health, including whether you’ve been feeling well (or not), drank alcohol, smoked, taken prescription medicine, or exposed yourself to tobacco smoke. Your doctor will also make sure you’ve taken all the proper precautions against getting sick, such as washing your hands often and avoiding people who’re ill.


If you want to reduce your chances of going into premature labor, try the following strategies:

Visit Dr. Tepper frequently. Get a flu shot and all recommended vaccines before you become pregnant. Make and keep regular appointments so Dr. Tepper can monitor your pregnancy progress and help you mitigate any risks you may have due to lifestyle or health history.

Consult your doctor before taking any medication. There is no way to prevent preterm labor completely, but these steps help reduce the risk. Talk to Dr. Alex Tepper any time you feel like you’re going into labor before 37 weeks. We would rather you be safe and healthy rather than have you second-guess how you’re feeling.

Pregnancy Care in New York City

The sooner your doctor diagnoses your preterm labor, the better off you are. If preterm labor isn’t caught early enough, it could cause severe problems for both mother and baby. This is the benefit of having concierge OB/GYN services that offer 24/7 care with a physician on call to handle emergencies, questions, and appointments. Call or contact us online today to find out how our approach to pregnancy care makes a difference.


Whether you are a new or returning patient, Dr. Tepper can assess your concerns and discuss your options to find the most comfortable and convenient care for you. To get started, call our office to set up an appointment.