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Monitoring

If you are in preterm labor or think you may be, your doctor may do some tests to monitor you and your baby. These tests include:

  • Lab tests—These may involve testing blood, urine, and cells from the cervix or amniotic fluid to look for infection.
  • Ultrasound—This test uses sound waves to create images of the inside of your body. In this case, the ultrasound is done to:
    • Examine the placenta
    • Check the baby’s age
    • Look for birth defects in the baby
    • See the position of the baby
    • Measure the cervix and the amount of amniotic fluid
  • Amniocentesis—This test involves removing a small amount of amniotic fluid to look for infection or to see if the baby’s lungs are mature.
Restricted Activity or Bed Rest

If you are at risk for preterm labor, your doctor may recommend that you rest. The amount of rest you need will depend on personal factors. You may be told to avoid certain stressful activities or to rest several times a day. You may be advised to stay in bed at all times. Your may be able to sit up in bed, or you may need to lie with your feet elevated and your head down. In some cases, you may need to stay in the hospital for bed rest. Lying on your left side enhances uterine relaxation and blood flow.

If you are on bed rest for a long period of time, you may lose muscle tone. After delivery, you will need to take steps to regain muscle strength. Brisk walking is a good way to do this. Extended bed rest can also increase the risk for blood clots. Therefore, do not stay completely still. Stretching and other relaxed movements are helpful. Ask your doctor what types of movements are safe for you.

During bed rest, it is important to keep your mind occupied. Some women catch up on reading, paying bills, phone conversations, emails, sewing, or anything else that can be done while in bed. To limit walking, be sure to keep what you need close by.

References:

Late-Preterm Infants. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Committee Opinion No. 404, April 2008. (Reaffirmed 2011)

Premature labor. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://americanpregnancy.org/labornbirth/prematurelabor.html. Updated May 2007. Accessed April 23, 2013.

Preterm labor and birth. March of Dimes website. Available at: http://www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/preterm_indepth.html. Updated September 2012. Accessed April 23, 2013.

Preterm labor. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq087.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20130423T0923201528. Accessed April 23, 2013.



Last reviewed March 2014 by Andrea Chisholm, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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