Talking to Your Doctor About Preterm Labor and Delivery
You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with preterm labor. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.
General Tips for Gathering Information
Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:
- Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
- Write out your questions ahead of time so you do not forget them.
- Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
- Do not be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.
Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor
About Your Risk of Developing Preterm Labor
- Based on my medical history and lifestyle, am I at risk for preterm labor?
- Is there anything about this pregnancy that puts me at risk for preterm labor?
- Am I currently taking any medication that puts me at risk for preterm labor?
- How do I reduce my risk of preterm labor?
- If I go into preterm labor, how can I reduce the risk of preterm delivery?
- Should I be screened for preterm labor?
- If I have preterm labor in this pregnancy, will I have it in my next pregnancy?
About the Symptoms of Preterm Labor
- What does a uterine contraction feel like?
- How can I tell the difference between a contraction and a normal ache or cramp?
- What should I do if I feel preterm contractions?
About Treatment Options
- How is preterm labor treated?
What medications are available to me to treat preterm labor?
- What are the benefits and side effects of these medications?
- How will these medications affect my baby?
- Will these medications interact with other medications, over-the-counter products, or dietary or herbal supplements I am taking for other conditions?
Do I need to be on bed rest?
- How limited is my motion while on bed rest?
Am I a candidate for cervical cerclage?
- How effective is this procedure?
- What are the side effects of this procedure?
About Your Baby’s Health
- What are the risks to my baby if I go into preterm labor?
- What are the risks to my baby if I deliver prematurely?
- How do the risks change with each week of pregnancy?
- Will my baby need to stay in the hospital after birth?
- What type of treatment will my baby receive?
- What will I need to do for my baby once we return home?
- What are the long-term health risks for my baby?
About Reducing Your Risk
- Should I be screened for any infections?
- Where can I get help for an abusive relationship?
- What is a healthy diet during pregnancy?
- Should I avoid sexual activity?
Preterm (premature) labor and birth. 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.
Tips for talking to your doctor. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/healthcare-management/working-with-your-doctor/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor.html. Updated May 2010. Accessed April 13, 2013.